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Cleaning range brass

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by jquirit, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. jquirit

    jquirit Forest Grove, OR Member

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    With my most recent trip to Browns Camp, I've gotten it in my head to clean up after my brass and keep it (I'm only shooting brass case). So I'm looking at getting a Lee hand-held press to deprime the cases I do pick up.

    What do you folks recommend to clean the cases with? What have been your experiences with the various vibratory media cleaners that Midway USA stock? And as for the media itself: corn or walnut?

    As for reloading, I'm not too sure about that just yet. I suppose it could be done with the hand reloader (I will have it to deprime them all). At the moment, I am only shooting .223 so having to swap between setups would be "minimal". It's one of those things where I'm thinking, "is this worth it?" And if it's worth is, should I just step up to a single-stage press (like the Lee Classic) since it's not that much more than the hand-held press?

    Oh, so many choices. This is all rather new to me, and reading the previous threads have been helpful but yet.. well.. begs as many questions as it answers them!

    :bluelaugh:
     
  2. cootduster

    cootduster near SeaTac airport, Seattle, WA. New Member

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    I first sort my "range brass" by size of case mouth. All the rifle in one container, 45/44 in another, 380/9mm/38/357 in another 10mm/40cal in another. Sorting keeps a smaller sized one from "Nesting" inside a larger one. I use large peanut butter jars, that hold about one load for the tumbler.

    I wash each jar of same size brass, in hot soapy dish water for about 10 min. Then rinse in hot water. I put the wet brass in a plastic dish pan or in my case I have some "gold panning" containers, and set it aside for a few days to dry. This gets rid of a lot of the powder residue, the dirt and grime. If you like the looks of your brass you don"t have to do anything more to it if you don't want to.

    I then use a vibratory tumbler (Midway has them, Bi-Mart or even Harbor Freight tools carry them), with white rice to clean the brass. Any where from a couple of hours to over night. depends on how bad the brass was to begin with. You can use white rice, corn cob, or walnut shell for media. They all work, what ever is the easiest to get your hands on and the least expensive.

    Then I use a single stage press to de-prime the brass. You have to handle it as you work it through the press, and you inspect for spit cases and or rejects. a hand held press is "O-K", but slower. for the "extra money" get a singe stage press.

    After de-priming, I run the brass back through the tumbler to get the case lube off and to polish the bras to as nice looking as you want it. I do mine over night, but just depends on what you want your brass to look like.

    I would recommend that you look into a local NRA sponsored "Reloading Class" to learn the basics of hand loading.

    cootduster
     
  3. BUZO71

    BUZO71 Emerald Valley, Oregon New Member

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    If it comes down to wanting to reload, I happen to have a single stage I've been flirting with selling.... lemme know
     
  4. johnboy

    johnboy Hillsboro Member

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    Only way to go if you can spare some time....it is NOT difficult. Get a load book and follow it to the T. Press over hand as you will tire soon with the hand unit. Single stage will do it all.....
     
  5. jquirit

    jquirit Forest Grove, OR Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'll have to investigate which single-stage presses are out there and meet my needs. Hand might work but might just be better off with a single-stage if the price isn't that much different.

    BUZO, you got a PM with questions.
     
  6. that_dad

    that_dad Puget Sound New Member

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    What a great idea!:thumbup: How well does it compare to corncob? Do you add any pollish with the rice?
     
  7. HappyRoman

    HappyRoman Sherwood Forest Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    ARe you really asking about equipment for preping brass for reloading or reloading itself.

    If your asking about case prep, the most important 1st steps are:
    1. Seperate out the trash, sorting by case size & caliber. Some of us who shoot large volumes of ammo, may even go as far as sorting by headstamp ( noT USUALLY required)

    2. Clean off or away any dirt/debris.

    3. Wash the brass with a mild dish soap, and if you want you chemically clean also, (if 1x brass) probably not needed.

    4. Then, tumble clean with media (Your choice here) and some polishing agent (your choice again..recommend a NON-Ammonia based product) until you are satisfied with the look.

    5. Once again recheck/inspect for crack, lip/rim nicks, and only reload the GOOD brass.

    Your now ready to process the brass. Trim Case to overall length, Clean primer pockets, roll size as necessary ( most don't do this unless have commercial equipment) and Procede to reload.

    HOPE THIS HELPS, WRITE ANY TIME, sANDY
     
  8. jquirit

    jquirit Forest Grove, OR Member

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    HappyRoman, well it's sort of both. My initial intention was just to prep and collect brass to one day reload (or maybe sell to those that would want brass). But if I'm already getting some of the equipment, it begs the question if the (slight) additional cost to get a simple, single-stage press might be a better investment (compared to a hand press I had initially recommended) if I decide to go down the route of reloading as well. Which, I will have to admit, is an alluring proposition.

    Take, for example, I've been looking at a single-stage press (the Classic Cast) from Lee. They are simple, inexpensive, and robust and I like that they have that tube that goes from the bottom of the ram into any container of your choosing to dispose of used primers. The Classic Cast press may be twice the price of the hand press, but it's $35 vs $80 (this is using Midway USA pricing) the cost-versus-benefit trade-off might make it worth getting the press versus the hand press.

    It's choices I'm trying to figure out what I want to make to mitigate any additional expenses than necessary at this moment.
     
  9. johnboy

    johnboy Hillsboro Member

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    Worst case scenario, you will have a complete set up to sell if you decide it takes too much of your time and there is a demand for the equipment. If you stock enough components you will never have an ammo shortage either. Also, if you "batch" load like most long time loaders do, you will not have to set up to load again for awhile for each caliber. You could load once or twice per year depending on how much you shoot.......back to personal choice again.....You can find used equipment...press,primer tool,scale,primer pocket cleaner,deburring tool,shell holders,powder measure,funnel,sizing lube, would be the basic list.
     
  10. HappyRoman

    HappyRoman Sherwood Forest Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Jquirit,
    Congratutions are in order, for all the inquiring, considering and evaluating of choices.
    I started some 20yrs ago, reloading on the Dillion Equipment.
    Have had over 11 presses over the years, None have been finer in the progressive arena than the Dillions.
    Lee and others make progressive presses that work well too.
    Even, during the 50's, HOLLYWOOD presses are very well done.

    If you intend to reload for volume, in pistol calibers, where you want to make 100's of rounds verses a few boxes of rifle rounds, a progressive press definitely is worth considering. As for service after acquiring a press, the Dillion folks, are second to non in my books.
    The people at Lee, were very helpful and others to; but when they say that Dillion comes with a no BS warrantee, they are correct, even if you buy a used press.
    Most wear parts, and about anything else you break on the Dillion are replaced w/o cost, usually Priority mail. (2-3 days max, as they come out of AZ.)
    I now utilize 4 of my remaining 5 Dillon presses, and would not even try to load on a single stage press, even though many a handload and handloader operate daily.

    The Dillion once set will make 5-20-100 or more rounds extemely well. Setup is everything and takes a bit, and can be quite frustrating, but the volumes of ammo, 9mm, 40S&w, 38, 357, 45 and others is quite amazing when you take the effort.

    Good Luck on your decisions, and again this is just M.02cW
    Happy
     
  11. johnboy

    johnboy Hillsboro Member

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    I second the Dillon presses. The 550 will do most anything and Dillon will back their products all the way...even send you things that break(free). You can load a few hundred rounds per hour if you like....rifle or pistol. I only use single stage for load development these days....Single stage is the least expensive of the presses.....but in the long run, Dillon saves much much time....
     
  12. jquirit

    jquirit Forest Grove, OR Member

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    I'd love to get a Dillon press, but it is definitely outside the realm of my budget (once you factor in supplies, additional equipment such as a scale, calipers, case trimming equipment, etc). A mid-range option that would be semi-affordable would be a turret press like Lee Classic, RCBS Turret, or Lyman T-Mag 2. A compromise of sorts between speed and cost, or perhaps just another case of feature creep which could simply be taken care of by a single-stage.

    For example, the price for the Lee Classic Cast press (single-stage) is $20 less than the Lee Classic 4-hole turret press ($75 vs 95). I lose the nice o-frame but gain the potential for auto-indexing (auto-indexing is an additional $2 if I'm reading it right). However both are sold sans-kits so it means piecing together all the additional components I'd need such as the dies, scale, powder thrower, case prep tools. Then there are the Lyman T-Mag2 ($343) and RCBS ($373) that sell entire turret press kits.

    I understand that the greatest debate when it comes down to single-stage, turret, and progressives is the time. I hear people banter about reloading 1000's of rounds a month. If I'm reloading 200 rounds a month (figure 100 each of .40S&W and .223, or maybe 50-200, will have to see), does it really benefit to get a progressive? Those benchloaded rounds would constitute my practice ammo.
     
  13. johnboy

    johnboy Hillsboro Member

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    I would go single stage to start....then if you really like it etc, go to the Dillon if you need/want progressive. I would not have the Dillon if I did not shoot so much handgun ammo......Again...you can find good used equipment here and there, though it seems more difficult these days.....
     
  14. curlywolf

    curlywolf South King County New Member

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    For "That Dad":

    You can use ordinary brass polish, (Dillon, Midway, Frankford Arsenal) but don't use too much, or you'll get rice pudding.:eek: After adding, let it run until it is all absorbed before adding brass. The sharp rice grains do a very good job cleaning both inside and out. It's counter-intuitive, but the dirtier the rice gets, the better it cleans. Add a half of a drier sheet, and you'll have almost no dust.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2009
  15. that_dad

    that_dad Puget Sound New Member

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    Thanks alot! :D
     
  16. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    You can get crushed walnut shells and corncob media at a large pet store. They sell it for bedding. Saves shipping costs and they are reasonable. I get better "crud" cleaning with walnut, and a better shine with corncob. Usually I can skip the walnut.

    I use a product that's called Black Gold which I buy at an automotive paint supply store. It's used for the final buff on an auto paint job. Very slightly abrasive (it's also called a swirl mark remover) and it's completely water soluble. Just a very few drops in the media really adds to the shine. A bottle will last a lifetime. If it thickens up over time just add a VERY little water to the bottle and shake. It's ammonia-free.

    PS I think that any good brand of "swirl mark remover" which is water based would work fine. I just got onto Black Gold back when I was restoring cars for fun.
     
  17. roguebowhunter

    roguebowhunter medford Member

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    found a way to clean that Dirty Black oxidized brass ... soak it overnight in vinegar... i use a disposable glass or plastic container cause it does leave a film on the bottom .. Don
     
  18. johnboy

    johnboy Hillsboro Member

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    Must be the acetic acid in vinegar....guess it wont weaken the brass or make it brittle?
     
  19. Oohrah

    Oohrah NorthwestSouthern Oregon Coast Member

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    Another little trick for extending the media and polishes with either corn cob or Walnut hulls is to throw a sheet of clothes dryer fresh scent. It picks up the fine dirt, dust and powder residue. I usually cut a sheet into a couple or three strips and throw it in with the tumbling cases. When it gets dark and clogged up, toss it out. Probably do this about every other time. Used to get crushed walnut hulls in the pet section at Wally World. They use it for the bottom of bird cages. Big bags for a couple of bucks! If you are low on brass polish, NuFinish Car Polish works great ( a couple of tablespoons and let it run for awhile before adding cases.) Non petrolum and no harmful ingrediants in it. Never used the vinegar, and I suppose it probably doesn't contain enough acid to etch the brass. Many years back some crap called Case Brite did etch, and would turn carbon and tarnish into pinkish blobs. Can't really say it was harmful, but the cases looked awful. The Brite was a dull yellow with pink spotted places where powder and tarnish spots once resided.
     
  20. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    I've heard several times that Nu Finish car polish really puts the shine on brass. I won't use it, but I don't know if I'm right. I do know it leaves a "greasy" residue on the brass including the inside.

    It contains silicone and you'll never get that out of your brass unless you really scrub each piece inside and out with something like Poly Cracker. That's what body shops use to remove silicone based polishes from cars before painting so the paint can flow and stick.

    I don't know if the silicone would hurt the powder at all, but I want clean brass, not contaminated brass. That's why I use a couple of tablespoons of a water based polish referred to in the auto painting trade as a swirl mark remover, and even then I make darned sure it's water based. It still has the very fine polishing compound in it but it will wash right off.

    If someone has some research that shows that silicone is harmless in the inside of the case, I'm all ears. I just don't know so I play it safe for now.

    Also please be aware that Nu Finish contains petroleum distillates which will contaminate powder if it's not allowed to dry before loading. Nu Finish is therefore also quite flammable, something else to consider. Most of us are careful when reloading anyway, but if the tumbler is located away from the reloading area it's good to know not to smoke near it if it has Nu Finish vapors emitting while it's running.

    Again, I'm all ears if some chemist here can assure me that the residue in the case will not affect my powder or primers in long term storage.

    $.02 and not worth that much.