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Homemade brass tumbler/ suggestions for media.

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by blankman, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. blankman

    blankman vancouver wa Active Member

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    So I made a tumbler it has about an 8 or so gallon capacity. I can use either dry media, or a wet solution Any suggestions would be helpful. I took some pics so you can see what I am working with. I built a bracket so I can hook up a variable speed drill motor, or a variable speed auto polisher. It will go from a slow crawl to about 850 rpm
     
  2. dennisf

    dennisf Battleground, Wa Member

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    There is a guy who reworks 50 cal stuff that uses big tubs on his 4 tumblers. I don't know what he uses for his. We got a tip at the range about corn cob, lizard litter from Petco, with brake cleaner shot in to it. It works faster than the regular media and gives a nice bright polish.
     
  3. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    You've got a perfect setup for Stainless Steel Pin tumbling media. Contact Pellets LLC for better pricing. Each Gallon of water would need about 10 # of pins and be able to do about 350 pieces of .223 brass.

    The marketer of the Stainless Steel Tumbling media suggests 1 gallon per 5$ but I use half the water and get great results.

    The actual amount of water, pins, and brass your setup will hold will depend on the overall weight capacity of the setup.

    As for dry media, like the kids today say, "That's so five years ago". Who couldn't like cases that are clean inside and out, with primer pockets that sparkle as well?
     
  4. PaulZ

    PaulZ Oregon City Active Member

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    I've been using a bag of walnut shells from sandblasting supply that will last me years but Got to check out deadshot2 method.
     
  5. blankman

    blankman vancouver wa Active Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. deadshot2 I am going to look into the pin method. any and all info is greatly appreciated. so feel free to keep the suggestions coming.
     
  6. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    I just want to know who's cranking that thing?
     
  7. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    If that is run in an upright position I don't see it working. I see it just turning the contents along with the barrel. If it was run on its side, I see the contents tumbling "some," but without some vanes inside I can even see the contents just sliding.

    If I needed something bigger than my two vibrating cleaners, I'd spring for a portable concrete mixer.

    I'm not ready for stainless pins. I like the polish I get by using corncob and 3M Fast Cut. That polish is water based and leaves no residue. I get it at an auto paint supply store. Body shops use water based polishes because they can't risk contaminating the shop with silicones and waxes which will migrate eventually into a paint job and cause fish eyes. I don't want it in my brass, either.

    I've seen brass cleaned with stainless pins and they are clean. Nice and clean. Mine are cleaned and polished. Maybe some day I'll get over thinking they need to be polished.

    Also, be careful which chemicals are used. Brass is copper and zinc. The zinc is very soft and can be leached out and the brass will weaken. Acids including citrus cleaners and alkalines including ammonia are way off my list. My polishes are finely ground pumice and water.

    To each his own.
     
    evltwn and (deleted member) like this.
  8. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I've done both. The pins actually "burnish" the brass. While not quite as shiny as from the corncob process, I'll give up some shine for lack of dust and cases that have their interior and primer pockets as clean as when they were new. All without extra steps.
     
  9. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    I'm not yet convinced that the pins don't work harden the surface. How can it burnish and not harden?

    Has anyone tried the brass pins they make?

    I don't get dust. I spritz my media with a spray bottle of water periodically both to keep my media and my polish damp and to control dust. The polish is water based and will evaporate as well as soak into the media.

    Unless I could tumble with dry pins, there would be extra steps. Even if I could tumble with dry pins, wouldn't I still have to rinse and blow the residue from the cases? The tumbling I've seen done with pins was in water followed by a rinse and dry.

    ??
     
  10. blankman

    blankman vancouver wa Active Member

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    It can be run at any angle variant from vert to horizontal and the barrel does have about 3/8s ribs 2/3 of the way up the inside of the drum. as stated I power it with a half inch drive drill motor or a variable speed polisher/grinder motor this way I can control the rpms either motor takes less than 5 min to attatch with the bracket I made. except for power supply which I already had. this has cost me $0 As I have scavenged all the parts from things that were being thrown away. I know I could just buy one, but I always enjoy the challenge of making things amd to see how inexpensive it can be done. with the resources at hand. Again thank you for all the input, as it is very helpful
     
    Benihaus and (deleted member) like this.
  11. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Burnishing doesn't work the metal as sizing and firing does. By definition, Burnishing is the plastic deformation of the metal. Burnishing merely "smears" the metal, knocking off the high spots of a rough surface. To Work Harden the plastic limit of the metal has to be exceeded. You are probably "working" the metal in the case more by tumbling or vibrating in conventional media than any working the pins would cause. The pins weigh about 1/2 grain on average. Just how much "working" do you think they are capable of accomplishing.

    I have cases that I've run through a dozen load/shoot cycles and absolutely NO signs of any problem, even under high magnification. Just how long do you want your cases to last?

    Yes, there is the rinse/dry step. All of 2-3 minutes to rinse, another couple of minutes of shaking in a towel, and then I merely trim and drop into a bin to finish drying. My only "complaint" is that the cases are so clean that they do take on a patina in a day or so although no more so than brand new cases you buy in bags.

    As for brass pins, they won't work as well in removing the hard carbon deposits. The little sharp surfaces on the cut ends of the pins will round off almost immediately on the brass pins.

    Rest assured, I shoot a lot of ammo in a year and any issues of surface hardening would have surfaced long ago.
     
  12. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Deadshot2, Thanks for the excellent answer. I will remain convinced that "Burnishing merely "smears" the metal, knocking off the high spots of a rough surface" is an act of work hardening, but you've convinced me that it's not a deal killer. I agree that firing and sizing brass probably does a lot more.

    How long do I want brass to last? Forever, LOL, but my limit is 7 for some reason. That's enough to get the cost per load way down and keep me comfortable. I think I mentioned that I buy only matched brass from LEO range pickup and pay a little premium, but again the cost per load is small. I won't pick up loose brass at the firing range because I don't know what it is or where it's been.

    I also buy once fired military brass for 5.56 and 7.62 and go through the nuisance of decapping and swaging. I buy new brass for my beloved .270. Only nostalgia and the fact it's a tack driver keeps me from swapping it for a .308. I've owned it since 1974 and it still has the Leopold Gold Ring scope I got at the time.

    OK, I'll try the stainless pins, but I'll cuss you every time I look at the brass and fail to see a high polish, LOL. :)
     
  13. GuyBMeredith

    GuyBMeredith Salem, Oregon Active Member

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    I've been suggesting 20/40 grit corn cob media from Grainger. I have a 42 pound bag that is going to take me some time to use up. The fine grit cleans well and is too small to jam up the primer pockets.

    It looks like the prices may have gone up, but they are listing 42 pounds of media for $34.90.
     
  14. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    The sandblasting supply is still the best place for both corncob and walnut media, I am still paying about $20/50lbs, yea grainger has it, but since they are more of a middle-man (who has almost everything) they can get a few more bucks for it. I still use the dillon rapid polish, but some people have had very good results with nu-finish car wax. The important thing in your final-step of polishing is that you have a compound that contains a wax, this will keep the casings from tarnishing badly, which has been a huge issue for me with the frankford arsenal case polishes.

    I recently bought about 50lbs of stainless steel "jewelers mix" from a local outfit, it was a little expensive, but substantially less than the "stainless shot" people. I've done a few experiments with it, and it does seem to work quite well, however it's also very aggressive on the brass and easily rounds out many of the corners if used for too long. I'm using the 3cu-ft cement mixers they sell at harbor freight in a wet/dry process, with the stainless shot, I use it as an after-processing cleaning, with which I use warm water, dawn dishwashing detergent, and a little bit of citric acid, and let it go for about 10 minutes, then run it through the separator, dryer, and then put it into corncob for about 2 hours.

    I am incredibly anal about the finish on my shell casings, I want them to look as new as possible because if you produce ammo that looks like crap, customers think your ammo is crap, but as always, I don't want to have a bunch of brass tumbling for 24 hours straight, the pin-mix has done a very good job of helping to cut my cycle times (time = money) and was well worth the investment. I'm still tuning the process.
     
  15. GuyBMeredith

    GuyBMeredith Salem, Oregon Active Member

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    I was surprised at the current price on the Grainger corncob and did some research. I did, in fact, pay about $26 for the 40 lb bag I bought about a year or so back. Still Grainger beats the price of commercial cleaning media and lizard litter and the grit size more amenable for my use.

    Two other companies, Drillspot and Zoro Tools (Illinois), carry the same media for $32.90 and $22.91 respectively. Drillspot includes free shipping, Zoro Tools requires a $50 or greater purchase. When I bought from Grainger I wasn't worried about shipping as they were located on my daily commute. The Zoro Tools option of the 80 lbs with free shipping looks like a candidate for a group or club purchase.

    Econoline is the source of the media, but I did not find any net links to the company right off the top.ff