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Old 01-12-2022, 07:06 PM
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Which is better for cleaning up brass?
Has anyone use any of the harbor freight devices?
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Old 01-12-2022, 07:54 PM
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I use the 18# vibrating tumbler from Harbor freight. Been using it for years as you can clean 500+ Pistol brass at once. I also have an old Lyman small vibrating unit and the original thumbler unit. Use the Harbor freight one the most with walnut hulls. I have a “home-made” SS pin wet tumbler that I mostly use for 223 shells. It’s a process to clean rinse and and dry.
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Old 01-12-2022, 08:04 PM
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I use the dual drum tumbler from HF. That with one pound of stainless shrapnel shaped media per drum. Cleans very well.
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Old 01-12-2022, 10:07 PM
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It doesn't really matter. Just get it clean. If you want a high polish, send it off to a jewelry store. Or some old navy dude.
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Old 01-12-2022, 10:18 PM
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I tumble with steel pins in a Lyman tumbler with a couple once of Lyman brass cleaner. Brass comes out brand new in two hours.
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Old 01-12-2022, 10:21 PM
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With Corn Cobb or Walnut Shell, dry vibrate or tumble doesn't really matter. Don't over load and change out the media when dirty! (If the media is too filthy, you get a really shiny shade of green/gray!)

I went to wet with SS pins. It took black powder stained black brass and looks like brand new in 3-4 hours. Once fired to new in 1-1.5. Don't forget the dish soap and citric acid (Lema-Shine)!

The problem with wet tumbled brass is the inside of the mouth is so clean, it can stick on the expander/powder funnel in straight wall calibers. I personally don't mind, but it is a little more effort. At 400-500 per hour, it really adds up in tired!

Ivan
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Old 01-12-2022, 10:44 PM
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Donít over think it, they all work. My complaint with the HF is cheap material. The center shaft is made from poor quality metal so threads wear away where the wing nut attaches. Since I use it almost weekly they only last a few years. I can extend that by adding washers so the wing nut finds new threads. Since HF is only a few miles away itís easier to just buy a new one. Tried to replace the threaded rod with a new one but never succeeded.
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Old 01-12-2022, 10:45 PM
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After 40 years of vibrating I went wet. I like it much better. The Harbor Freight unit works fine though you may find the capacity lacking if you have large brass and/or are looking for high production. Even the two drum edition only holds a little over 100 .41 Magnum cases in total. That works for me. It's much quieter than the vibrator. Done in two hours. Then let it lay out and dry.

You'll need a magnet....

Edit: I misstated the capacity on this. Each drum holds 100 .41 magnum cases. I just loaded it up...

Last edited by glenwolde; 01-13-2022 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 01-12-2022, 11:39 PM
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Wet tumble in stainless steel pins. The dust from vibratory polishing is awful and it only cleans the outside of the case. 3 Hours in a wet tumbler and the cases come out looking brand new inside and out.
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Old 01-13-2022, 01:34 AM
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I have never had a problem with using a vibrating cleaner. I use a Berry's 400 Vibrating Tumbler but in green from Cabela's. They are available from Berry's of course and Cabela's, Kempf, Brownells, Sinclair and a few others.

I have found crushed walnut shells clean best while corn cob seems to polish the brass best. I run a 50/50 mix of the two and that works fine.

Like said above, when dry tumbling it doesn't matter if you use a vibrating or rotating machine.

Good luck with your choice.
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Old 01-13-2022, 07:16 AM
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I have hot buttered popcorn for the 'monthly' show. Walnut shells for me!
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Old 01-13-2022, 08:25 AM
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Have been using a vibratory one for about 30 years? Friend told me about adding rice to mix of walnut shell, corn cob and polishing liquid. Works very well. Let it run over night which reminds me have to go turn tumbler off and get cases out.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:42 AM
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I follow a couple of unlimited F-Class shooters, the 1000-yard shooter. National champs and such. They said they don't bother to "clean" their brass, just wipe it off an reload it. One also asked a bunch of competitors how they resize their brass--none neck size anymore. Full length shoulder bumps is all they do.

Kind of makes me wonder how much time and effort I'm wasting in my reloading process.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:49 AM
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Maybe it’s just the kid in me but I get a happy feeling every time I open up a box of new Starline brass to load. Well wet tumbling with pins gives me that same feeling even with range pick up brass. It all looks brand new and I like that.
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Old 01-13-2022, 10:24 AM
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I have both and used both .
The rotating tumbler , Thumbler model B , I've had the longest . I use dry treated walnut shell media but in the Thumbler it is made to polish rocks with water and can be used with water and whatever else is the rage . I don't care for water or pins they have their own problems .
I prefer the dry media and I find the vibrating polisher easier to load / unload and faster working but you need to use a commerical treated nut shell polishing media ... not something from the pet shop or hardware store ... Midway USA sells a good media under their brand name ( Frankford Arsenal ?) Treated Walnut Hull ...be sure and get "Treated" it will clean , polish and leave a non-tarnishing protection on the cases . Water cleaning leaves them wet and they will soon tarnish if not treated .
I find the vibrating machine's large open bowl easier to get the cases out of . Treated media isn't dusty as some keep whining about so don't use pet store stuff that's not made for case polishing .
Hint ... Buy a BIG one ... they do a better job when cases aren't crowded and can circulate freely through the media .
I been polishing since 1967 and the above advice is from experience !
I like clean and shiny brass too .
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Old 01-13-2022, 02:22 PM
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I use both but my rotary is the first I normally grab (I use a HF dual drum rotary with custom drums). For me and my media, my rotary is quieter and works slightly faster than my wobbler (Lyman 1200). I don't often tumble to a glossy shine and I have a mix of corn cob blast media, 14-20, and hard resin pyramids, which cleans fast but leaves a good finish. Last time I used my wobbler was with some 45 ACP brass which I wanted shiny (easy to find in the dirt, pebbles, etc. at the "range"). I used straight corn cob blast media with a dollop of auto wax and ran the wobbler a bit longer for a shine...

I must be extra lucky because the first HF rotary I bought lasted 14 years until I "improved" it (have no idea how many hours worked). Got a dual drum unit and still use it, 10 years later. I made larger "drums" and have no problem with quantity of cases tumbled. Just like any tool if it is kept clean and oiled it will last a very long time (haven't even had to replace a belt)...

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Old 01-13-2022, 03:05 PM
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Dry media in a vibrator. Don’t overload it. Brass doesn’t polish brass, just kind of scours it. It’ll be clean but dull.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:07 AM
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What are the custom drums s couple of you mentioned?
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Old 01-14-2022, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaco1234 View Post
Which is better for cleaning up brass?
Has anyone use any of the harbor freight devices?
Get a large HF vibratory tumbler and get box of Harbor Freight crushed walnut sandblast abrasive #12 grit.
I pretreat mine with Nufinish, but there are lots of other additives that will work. Used dryer sheets cut into fourths collect a lot of dirt.
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Old 01-14-2022, 08:06 PM
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I like the wet method. I just build this for tumbling small batches. Made out of a 12" piece of leftover 4" ABS, an end cap, a connector, and a test plug. Used a piece of 1 1/2" PVC for the paddles.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:42 PM
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I don't have a wet tumbler, but do have a dry vibrating one and an ultrasonic cleaner. The ultrasonic setup was something I picked up for cleaning parts, not brass, but I have used it for both.

For myself, the ultrasonic cleaner does work great, getting everything off the brass, but it adds the step of throwing the brass into the dehydrator I have for my various hobby tasks that need things dried, and my home is on well water, so I do get some staining which doesn't cause any problems functionally, but is annoying.

The dry vibrating setup, where I just use whatever car polish/wax happens to be on sale in the media, is more than good enough, but doesn't get the insides of the cases or primer pockets as clean v.s. the ultrasonic+drying process, for a given amount of time and effort.

Last edited by Tu_S; 01-14-2022 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 01-15-2022, 12:37 AM
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I use a Dillon CV2001 for 9mm and 38spl. Does a great job and pretty quiet compared to a couple of smaller Cabela and Lyman units I have. Mostly use corn cob with some metal polish but have used pet litter I think called Lizard Litter with great results. The CV 2001 will do around 2000 9mm cases or 1500 38spl cases at a time.
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:04 AM
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I just gave my small drum a test run with 250 pcs. of .32 H&R Magnum brass. Excellent results.
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:27 AM
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I use corn cob media, with a dose of NuFinish polish, in my Lyman vibrator unit. Been doing that for about 15 years and get great results. Super easy, and I don’t notice any dust at all.

I did buy a second unit last year, so I can do more cleaning production at a time. I toss in similar caliber/diameter cases in together, e.g. .38spl, .357, 9mm, .380 in one, and can clean my .45acp in the other unit concurrently. Saves time that I’m focused on cleaning, knocks it right out!

Also replaced my RCBS case/media separator with a Dillon last year. Good God, why didn’t I do that sooner!! That RCBS sifter sucked! Horrible plastic closure tabs made for aggravation every time I used it. The Dillon is much better designed/quality.
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Old 01-15-2022, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AManWearingAHat View Post
Wet tumble in stainless steel pins. The dust from vibratory polishing is awful and it only cleans the outside of the case. 3 Hours in a wet tumbler and the cases come out looking brand new inside and out.
3 hours?
I run 300 rounds of .223/5.56 through my small Frankford Arsenal tumbler for 1 hour and they come out spotless.


45 minutes for a full batch of 9mm, same results.
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Old 01-15-2022, 02:10 PM
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What are the custom drums s couple of you mentioned?
I made one out of 4" plastic pipe (PVC?), just long enough to fit, capped the ends and glued/screwed a couple dowels in the ID for "agitators". Also used large white plastic jars, the kind protein powder came in. Also added agitators to the ID, but had to wrap a couple wraps of self amalgamating tape as the slick plastic didn't get enough "bite" on the rollers and slipped when loaded with a couple hundred 9mm cases w/media...

As for "vibrators"; I am amazed how long "wobblers" last. The ones I've taken apart and looked at how they work., they added a weight to one side of the motor armature shaft, throwing the whole motor out of balance. But the bearings seem to last...
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Old 01-15-2022, 02:16 PM
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Wet tumbling; I put some 45 ACP cases in my rotary. Added plain water and tumbled. No secret formula. nor half dozen additives, just water. tumbled about an hour, cases came out pristine on the OD, and so-so in the primer pockets and ID.

I sincerely believe case cleaning/polishing is the most talked about and "over thought" part of reloading but by far the least important...

Jes thinkin' out loud...

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Old 01-15-2022, 09:17 PM
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I'm on my second HF 5# vibratory tumbler in 15 years. The first one lasted 12 years being used 3-4 times a week about 50 weeks per year with a lamp timer I set for 3 hours.

I modified my first one and did the same with the second one with experience from the first. I replaced the center shaft with an SAE threaded rod. Then I drilled and screwed down the bowl so it won't rotate relative to the base. I use 2 nuts jammed together to set the spacing for the lid and put a fender washer on top. For the lid, I bought a threaded hand knob to replace the wing nut and tighten down the lid with the hand knob against a fender washer, rubber washer, fender washer, double nuts tightened together. This puts a fixed tension on the lid to seal it but won't break it or bow it in after many uses.

It seems like a lot of work but it only takes about an hour to do all the mods and will make the bowl last at least as long as the motor which is just a cheap bathroom fan motor with an offset weight. My first tumbler finally gave up on the motor, but it really lasted so long that I deserved a new tumbler.
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:36 PM
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It doesn't really matter. Just get it clean. If you want a high polish, send it off to a jewelry store. Or some old navy dude.
I vote for the old Navy dude if you want the best sparkle.

Personally I don't need my brass to pass inspection or look new. Most of my brass sits around for awhile before it gets loaded so it starts to tarnish anyway. Clean is all it needs.

I just use a Lyman tumbler. Had it for 10 years and it cleans my brass. Actually I had one before that and it gave up but with 10 years of use I figure I got my moneys worth. That's why I bought another one.
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Old 01-15-2022, 09:44 PM
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3 hours?
I run 300 rounds of .223/5.56 through my small Frankford Arsenal tumbler for 1 hour and they come out spotless.


45 minutes for a full batch of 9mm, same results.
Yeah, about an hour if you change out the medium every 10 loads. I think a lot of folks run their medium too long and increase the tumbler time to compensate. Walnut shell is a good mulch for your wife's flower beds. Assuming you have a wife and flower beds.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:27 PM
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Wet tumble in stainless steel pins. The dust from vibratory polishing is awful and it only cleans the outside of the case. 3 Hours in a wet tumbler and the cases come out looking brand new inside and out.
I've used either a tumbler or vibratory machine for the last forty years and don't recall a problem with dust. Were you using media that was processed for brass cleaning?
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Old 01-16-2022, 12:21 AM
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I keep the media clean with used dryer sheets. It allows me to stretch the media well past 10-12 uses. Keeping it clean slows the edges being smoothed out.
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Old 01-17-2022, 01:35 PM
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Need polished, shiny brass? Nope. I reloaded 12 years before I got a tumbler. I just wiped each case with a solvent dampened rag as I inspected it. (at that time brown ammo was a sign of a reloader.). I had zero scratched dies or chambers...
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