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Old 07-31-2018, 06:41 PM
Empe Empe is offline
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Default Cleaning Brass Cases

I'm getting ready to start reloading and am looking into different pieces of equipment I will need before making the purchase.
There seems to be a few ways of cleaning brass cases. One is a tumbler using some type of media such as crushed walnut shells another more expensive option is a sonic cleaner . Also I was talking to person recently who says he uses a homemade solution of dish soap ,vinegar & water . He soaks the cases in the solution rinses them off and claims it does a pretty good job.
I don't want to spend money needlessly but don't want to buy something now only to upgrade in a few months .
Am interested in hearing of your experiences and suggestions.
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Old 07-31-2018, 06:50 PM
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There are several threads here about cleaning brass, at least one of which I started.

To summarize:

Cleaning with liquid works well but is very time consuming.

Rolling in a rotary tumbler with steel pins and fluid works great but is also a bit labor intensive.

Vibrating in walnut shells or corn cob is potentially a bit messy (I have not had this problem), doesn't clean quite as well, but is adequate and very easy.
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Old 07-31-2018, 06:50 PM
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In these discussions you will often find that folks are STAUNCH in their methods and sometimes it seems like everyone that may do it differently is crazy, haha.

In the interest of brevity, I have handloaded for three decades and only been cleaning brass for the last 20yrs. I survived before I cleaned brass but I would NEVER go back. My choice is a basic vibratory tumbler, ground up corn media, three squares (3"x 3") of paper towel and a short dribble of NuFinish car polish, 3-4 hours on a lamp timer.

I do NOT clean primer pockets ever on anything and I never size or deprime before tumbling.

I will never clean brass with a sonic or any method that makes it wet requiring that I dry it. Sonic cleaned brass is awe-inspiringly beautiful, but I'll never use any method that later requires drying by any method.

This is my routine and I typically produce 10,000 to 15,000 handloads annually, 95% of which are pistol/revolver ammo.
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Old 07-31-2018, 07:42 PM
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Don't overthink it. Yes clean brass is more pleasant to handle but it's not going to shoot any better Dry tumbler or wet SS pin tumbler (more expensive) or sonic cleaner or as you've mentioned just soaking in homemade brew - any of those methods will deliver satisfactory results.
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Old 07-31-2018, 10:08 PM
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Been handloading since 1977 and tumbled cases since then. They come out very shiny and even better / faster these days with small amounts of liquid cleaner added. Never been attracted to wet tumbling for the time and mess. And I could care less what the "inside" of the case looks like. One big advantage with tumbling is I can reload that same brass in a couple hours after shooting. You'll get many varied answers to this just like all the other threads that covered your question. Good luck with your new hobby!
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Old 08-01-2018, 01:26 AM
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If you're just starting out--vibratory tumbler, crushed walnut media (either prepared reloading stuff or lizard bedding).

Why? It's the simplest, most economical solution. There's very little effort involved, and you don't have to worry about drying cases.

Good stuff to buy with your tumbler and media:

--Deep kitty-litter scoop for sifting brass out of media without a lot of pouring and hassle.
--Timer for set-it and forget-it operation.

Once you're into it a few times, you can try out the Nu Finish and mineral spirits method, or get into a rotating tumbler and pins, or however else you decide to complicate your life.
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Old 08-01-2018, 01:41 AM
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Empe, I realize you're pretty new to the site.

BUT, if you use the search function, or even browse the thread titles in the RELOADING section, you will find more information and opinions on this topic than you could ever want to take the time to read.

This topic is literally discussed in another new thread at LEAST a couple of times a month in this section and has been for the last several YEARS.

Not trying to be mean or curmudgeonly, just saying that there is a LOT of info already available on this topic, and all of it is just waiting for you to look it up and read to your heart's content.

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Old 08-01-2018, 01:49 AM
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I have been reloading since the 80s. I have always used a Thumlers tumbler and a smaller Lyman, dry media, dryer sheets and Nufinish.

I parked my reloading efforts around late 2016 in preparation for a move. *******, its been almost 2 years since I pulled on a 550 handle and wonder if I remember how to do all this.

I finally got my backyard building but need to set up the inside. I saw my two tumblers and wondered if I should invest in a wet tumbler.

after reading Dr Mordo, Sevens and Webfarmer posts....I will continue as is.

I hope to be pressing out loads this winter!!!!
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Old 08-01-2018, 03:02 AM
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IMO the best bet for a new reloader is dry tumbling. Cheaper and less to learn about possible "gotchas" while you're buying new equipment and learning lots of other stuff. Can be dusty, so equipment with closed tops is best. Adding a used dryer sheet and/or tumbling outside helps too.

Frankford Arsenal and Hornady tumblers will do fine for <$50. The Frankford Arsenal Media Separator ($40) looks like it will work fine for dry and also claims to work for wet tumbling if you go that way later on.

Most ground corn, walnut media, or lizard bedding from pet stores will work fine. Corn Cob Blast Media, 425 to 1000 Nominal Dia. Micron Range, 40 lb. Bag ($35) from Grainger (or others) may well be the best and will last LONG. Least dust, cleans and polishes like the corn it is. Unlike other media it is small enough not to get stuck in your cases even if you choose to deprime before tumbling.

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Old 08-01-2018, 07:59 PM
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I use a vibratory tumbler in the winter, and wash cases with citric acid and dish soap in the summer, where I can leave them out in the sun to dry. Washing takes time, the vibratory method is faster. They don't have to be squeaky clean, just get the dirt off so they don't scratch the dies is all you need. After all, they will just get dirty again when you shoot them.
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Old 08-01-2018, 08:14 PM
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I wash my brass in a bucket with water, dawn, and citric acid. Swirl, sit, swirl, sit, swirl, rinse, sit, rinse.

Load.

easy peasy
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Old 08-01-2018, 08:22 PM
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Personally a harbour freight tumbler steel pins, water,Dawn blue, touch of Lemishine. Kitchen strainer covered with piece of window screen. Pour the pins and brass in the strainer. Rinse them pick out the brass then dry them easy enough for me. Pins will last forever and don't have to fool with dry media and keep buying more.
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Old 08-01-2018, 08:27 PM
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I just started the citric acid wash. I let my brass soak for about an hour, then rinse in hot water, then leave it out to dry for a couple of minutes. I then throw it in the vibrating tub with crushed walnuts and nu-finish for an hour. The citric acid seems to dissolve any tarnish and the walnut with the new finish shines the heck out of the brass.
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Old 08-01-2018, 10:04 PM
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I deprime and resize when I get back from range. When I have about 300 I tumble in walnut and car polish. I throw them into a sonic cleaner to clean inside of case and primer pocket and let sit on towel for a couple of days to dry.

Itís pressing a button. The machines do the work. I like clean brass.
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Old 08-02-2018, 05:16 AM
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Been at the reloading game for many years now and I've been using the Lyman Green mix over the past 10 years (use to use Walnut shells). The Lyman Green does a much better job than the Walnut Shells did - and lasts quite a while.

The newest method is wet tumbling with stainless steel pin media and some of the Guys who are just getting into the hobby are using that. If I were just starting out I might look into that method as it produces incredible results! At this point while I am sticking with the Lyman Green and a Dillon Vibratory Tumbler, the wet method works better IMHO although requires a little more work.
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Old 08-02-2018, 06:52 AM
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This old range brass was wet tumbled with no stainless pins used. Only 3 squirts of Dawn detergent and 1 teaspoon of Lemmon Shine. Yes it requires drying but you see the results. Note this only took 3 hours.
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:32 PM
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This old range brass was wet tumbled with no stainless pins used. Only 3 squirts of Dawn detergent and 1 teaspoon of Lemmon Shine. Yes it requires drying but you see the results. Note this only took 3 hours.
I do the same with pistol brass, except I only need 1 hour to get the same results. I let it dry in the shop for a week or so, never had a problem with moisture in over 150K rounds loaded this way. I don't understand the statement about it taking more time. The only way it takes more time is if one watches it dry.
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:12 PM
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Have both wet and dry tumbling equipment.
Wet tumbling has worked out great.
Wet with pins will clean the heck out of a suppressor core.
Nasty job made easy.
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Old 08-12-2018, 10:51 AM
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Here's how I clean my pistol cases: When the old lady isn't looking, I get her colander and dump a bunch of cases in it. Next, I spray the cases with simple green while stirring with one of the old lady's spoons. Then I rinse off the cases using the kitchen sprayer --again while stirring with the old lady's spoon. I then lay the cases out on one of the old lady's towels to dry. This method doesn't really get the cases nice and shiny but it knocks off the big stuff and leads to some interesting conversations at home.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:04 AM
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Firecracker--Why don't you spend six dollars and buy your own colander, spoon and towel. It's alot healthier. LOL
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:24 AM
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FWIW; cleaning brass is not needed to start reloading. I reloaded for 12 years before I got a HF rotary. I just wiped my cases with a solvent dampened rag as I inspected it (the first operation in reloading). I had no ruined dies, no scratched chambers, and I could spot all defects easily. Today I use a couple methods; a HF dual drum rotary with custom drums and a Lyman wobbler (whenever I choose to tumble). My media, after experimenting for a few years, is corn cob blast media 14-20, the best all around media.

Brass cleaning/tumbling is the most talked about but least important aspect of reloading. It often confuses a new reloader and causes the expenditure of money better used for other tools/equipment.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:29 PM
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Default I used to wash mine......

In dishwater and dump them into a colander. It gets the 'dirt' off but it doesn't get rid of stains or even some crud build up unless you scrub the cruddy case.So after years I got tired of it and got a vibrator tumbler. Boy does that thing work. You just have to make sure to dump the media out of the cases. I put a media screen (big plastic Chinese hat thingy) on a bucket ad dump the tumbler into the screen and shake it a lot. To get out the media still inside some cases (bottle neck rifle cartridges hold media) as I transfer the clean cases, I make sure that I invert them.

The vibratory tumblers have a great action. You see the cases flow toward the center where they sink into the media, travel along the bottom and pop up on the outside where they repeat the cycle every 15 or so seconds.

It also makes it easier to detect weak or cracked cases to throw out. If not by sight while you are transferring, you can feel the cracks and sometimes you can hear the 'ting' noise that a broken case mekes.

I wouldn't mind doing sonic cleaning because I have a way to dry them easily. Put the cases in the colander and blow dry then until all of the brass gets too hot to handle. Come back later and heat them up again and repeat until there's no water left.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:29 PM
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Some reloaders may not mind cleaning brass with a solvent dampened rag but I'm not one of them. Handgun bullets commonly come in boxes of 50 and I shoot a minimum of two boxes at a time. If using solvent, I'd suggest wearing gloves. I've tried it both ways and love my vibratory tumbler and brass polish. Other opinions respected.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:15 PM
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If you go with dry tumbling consider the content of the dust they can produce.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:48 PM
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Keep the lid on the vibratory tumbler while it's running. Add clothes dryer strips to help absorb the dust. Always wash hands after handling brass taken from a vibratory tumbler. Replace the used media at least annually if not sooner. Tumble in a room with good ventilation or outdoors if possible. Avoid breathing the dust that comes out of the tumbler when removing brass.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:41 PM
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I have been tumbling ( 1975 to 1980), vibrating (1980 to present) and sonic ( very seldom) cleaning brass. I have been using a Dillon 1000 vibrator for 20+ years for pistol and rifle and I have the separator also. I use media from Cabelas and three tablespoons of brasso. Works great.
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Old Yesterday, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikld View Post
FWIW; cleaning brass is not needed to start reloading. I reloaded for 12 years before I got a HF rotary. I just wiped my cases with a solvent dampened rag as I inspected it (the first operation in reloading).
So you did, in fact, clean your brass.

How to, and how clean a case needs to be, is speculative. Not everyone desires the same level of clean or shine. And yeah, it does seem to take up a lot of server space over much to do about nothing.
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Old Yesterday, 11:27 AM
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I'm kinda glad I started reloading pre-web, as there are a lot of "essential" steps in reloading I missed. For the English major, yes I did in fact "clean" my brass but as I meant and most understood, I did it by hand without wobblers or rotary tumblers, confusion about media, formula, "toxic" dust and if I was doing it right. Today when someone says "clean my brass" the intent is 99% of the time meaning using some sort of equipment, wobbler, rotary or sonic, to get the brass cleaner/shinier than new. I cleaned with a solvent dampened rag (and no, I did not get poisoned by mineral spirits/paint thinner) and the only thing I "missed" was shiny brass, but there was no one I wanted to impress...

A story; I went to a police range in the late 60s and noticed two fellers shooting a lot. I went closer and noticed their ammo was brown! They were reloaders that didn't polish their brass and let their targets speak for the quality of their handloads (shooting 1911s @ 50' and getting one hole targets of about 2"-3" for several magazines full). But that was before shiny, heavily processed brass became a necessity...

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Old Yesterday, 12:50 PM
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I don't clean my revolver or my rifle brass . I just size, de prime and reload . Have done it that way for my whole reloading yrs . I have bought brass that has been cleaned , they didn't shoot any better . I do watch for splits as I'm sizing and de priming . When I was given a bunch of range brass that was gritty on the outside , I used warm water , dawn detergent , a little vinegar and a touch of salt . I stirred them a bit , then let them sit for about 15 mins , rinse thoroughly and left to dry . Everyone has their own methods that they think the best . This is just what has worked for me . Good Luck , Paul
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Old Yesterday, 01:01 PM
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Default Vibrators are a little messy.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr. mordo View Post
There are several threads here about cleaning brass, at least one of which I started.

To summarize:

Cleaning with liquid works well but is very time consuming.

Rolling in a rotary tumbler with steel pins and fluid works great but is also a bit labor intensive.

Vibrating in walnut shells or corn cob is potentially a bit messy (I have not had this problem), doesn't clean quite as well, but is adequate and very easy.
...they give off a lot of dust. And dont wear clean clothes when dumping. You are bound to get some on you. I got 'cobbler's apron' with two pockets in front when I do messy stuff. I should wear it all the time because I attract grease and dirt. I was always real hard on clothes at work too, Run out to the pilot area to get a few quick measurements on a 1936 machine with chains and grease fitting and my clothes are now outside work clothes. I had a new jacket and went to the pilot area for a guy to show me a disassembled furnace pipe. We were standing about a foot apart and a gremlin jumped out and grabbed his elbow and shoved the threaded end with the copper pipe dope right on my jacket. I wore that jacket for years with thread stripes on the sleeve.

Off subject, but: Are you guys familiar with the copper high temperature pipe dope? You can put some on the tip of your finger and paint a barn with it.
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Old Yesterday, 01:07 PM
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Default Oh, noise factor....

Vibratory tumblers have a pretty loud rumble and the sound of brass hitting each other.

I don't have a roll tumbler but have seen media used that produced LOT of noise. Almost like a cement mixer.

If you use fiberboard drums instead of metal they are quieter.
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Old Yesterday, 03:14 PM
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If your tumblers are loud, perhaps you need more media...
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Old Yesterday, 04:25 PM
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Ehhhh, I think they're a little loud, mikld. Especially if you have it up on a bench, on a hard surface. When mine is in operation, I set it on the basement floor, which is padded by those Harbor Freight jigsaw floor mats. I can still here it on the ground floor, if the rest of the house is quiet--low background noise.

If I leave it up on the bench, it's a lot more noticeable.

Noise is one of the things that keeps me in vibratory tumbling as opposed to a roller with SS pins, which I figure would drive my dogs nuts.
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Old Today, 12:13 PM
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I've always found that my two "tumblers" are quieter with an optimum amount of media. My Lyman wobbler sits on the floor when in use and my HF rotary (with custom drums) can sit on the bench because it's intrinsically quieter. Either tumbler is much noisier when I'm using hard resin media or when there isn't quite enough media and the brass "clinks" together...

Just my experience with tumblers for the last 21 years...

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