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"Honey, does this tumbler make my brass look fat?"

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by unklekippy, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    OK. I am pretty old fashioned with my reloading and processing of brass. I use a Frankford Arsenal vibratory tumbler. I use walnut media generally, sometimes with rouge for polish. By the way, it gets inside the cases, which I have found to be no problem at all when firing. I highly recommend rouge treated walnut media if walnut is what you use. I am looking to make my life a little easier if possible. Stainless steel media is my most realistic option. Do you simply rinse the media or shake the carbon and debris off dry after each use? Is there a down side to stainless? Since the tumbler is already bought and paid for, does it make any sense to switch to an ultrasonic or liquid machine? In the end, I can use walnut for the rest of my life. It has worked for the first 50,000 cases or so. I just want your valued input and opinion on why I should/shouldn't switch and if I should, which way I should go. Thank you, Kip.
     
  2. techieguy

    techieguy Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that your tumber will handle the weight of the SS pins and water from what I have seen on video on the web. Most are putting in 7-10lbs of pins and another 7-10lbs of water then their brass. For really nasty / dirty brass I use some plastic pyramids and water / soap in vibratory tumber, after this I rinse and dry the brass before polishing in Walnut impregnated with rouge. So I would suggest that you keep on with what you are doing, if you want a bit more luster to you brass add some flitz brass polish (without ammonia)
     
  3. XSubSailor

    XSubSailor SW WA Active Member

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    IMO, the main downside to wet tumbling with SS media is that it's well...WET, which means you need to dry out your brass after you tumble it.

    I bought a 25lb box of corn cob media from Grainger's a while back for about $25 delivered. It will last me for many years...and a dab of rouge works well with it too. I usually tumble overnight, and my brass is mighty shiny inside and out the next morning. The dust is a minor annoyance, but for me, filling, draining, drying would be much more annoying and time-consuming.
     
    mjbskwim and (deleted member) like this.
  4. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    Well, there you go. I had no idea that SS needed to be used wet! That is now out. Any reason to change to ultrasonic? It looks like I'm sticking with walnut and rouge(though I will give corncob a shot, XSubSailor). Thanks for the polish advice as well, techieguy. Kip
     
  5. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Yes, SS media needs to be used in a wet machine and won't work in the vibrators. To some that's a downside that's OK. I like the fact that the complete case, inside, outside, and primer pocket is clean.

    I tumble after sizing. To separate the media just pour the water, cases, and pins through a strainer. I use an old T-shirt. Dump the cases and pins in a regular media separator and separate. Rinse the cases in the hottest water I can get from the faucet, drain, and dump on a bath towel. I then shake the cases in the towel for a few moments then dump into a storage bin. The cases are then trimmed even though they are still slightly damp. If I plan on loading on the same day, a few moments with a hair dryer handles the remaining moisture. I could also blow them out with air if I wanted to. Usually I just let them dry overnight and load the next day.

    For some, a shiny case is everything. For me, they're shiny enough after cleaning with pins and they're TOTALLY Clean, inside and out.

    BTW, Ultrasonic is "Wet" too. The one benefit to having an ultrasonic cleaner is that it's great for gun parts too:)
     
  6. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    Wow. I'm kind of surprised at how little I knew about the "other" methods of case cleaning. Again, I had no clue ultrasonic was wet. I was aware that it is great for gun parts. I very much appreciate all your feedback. For now, my walnut will work. While I appreciate everything being clean, inside and out, my cases polish great with walnut and the residue inside the case has never once been an issue. For me, the cost of purchasing the equipment to replace what already works is not worth it. In all fairness, I have now seen video of the SS media and it is almost unreal how clean the cases are. They look like brand new, unfired brass. Thanks again for all your help. Kip
     
  7. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I got an ultrasonic cleaner this past Christmas. While it does help get more carbon out of the brass and primer pocket it isn't the end all. I still tumble but I don't have to tumble as long. The ultrasonic cleaner adds some step to the brass prep but it doesn't bother me.
     
  8. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    If you really want brass to look "new" then wet tumbling is the only option, if you just want brass "less dirty" then ultrasonic, or regular tumbling are the best options. Since you're already using walnut media, you're getting a much duller finish than you would with either wet or corncob methods, even with the rouge, walnut is just tougher on brass than cob is.

    Also, generally wet steel media works best in a rotary type tumbler rather than a vibratory, this is mostly because the water makes up the bulk of the mix, in much the same way you add more media than you do shell casings with either corn or walnut so that the shells can kinda float around, and not bang into each other so much. I've been using a cement mixer with wet media on and off for a few months now. I've tried a lot of different stuff as a wet media, the pin media, or jewelry mix are so far the best. I'm currently trying to get a line on regular stainless steel shot media that doesn't break the bank to try that out, both the pin and jewelry mix are quite expensive alternatives to both corn and walnut, and run about 20x the price by weight so it's a rough first step.
     
  9. best defense

    best defense Beaverton, OR Active Member

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    I'm going to stick with the walnut. I have a small amount of jewlers rouge, but would like to know where to get more.
     
  10. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Simon Golub & Sons.
    2820 Southeast 8th Avenue # 2 Portland, OR 97202 (503) 230-9010

    Wholesale jewellery supply house. They are great people and have a lot of specialty tools that cross over to gunsmithing.
    Between Powell and Division.
     
  11. best defense

    best defense Beaverton, OR Active Member

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    Thank you
     
  12. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    They have a nice little jeweler's hammer on sale that comes with three changeable heads (brass, plastic and copper). I use it all the time when doing somewhat delicate work on my firearms.
    Costs about $4.99.
     
  13. best defense

    best defense Beaverton, OR Active Member

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    I made one for myself. I work in a machine shop.
     
  14. telemakos

    telemakos Portland Member

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    What about the rotary tumblers like the Thumler's tumbler that you can buy at Cabelas
     
  15. Tangent123123

    Tangent123123 Battle Ground Active Member

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  16. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Shop around for the tumbler but make sure it's the High speed model. Also, pins are available from Pellets LLC. The pins from "pellets" are about half the price as from STM. Just call them and they know what size you need.

    I've been using the Stainless media for a couple years now. Shiny enough results to not even bother with corncob any more.
     
  17. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Just curious but why the need to have brand new looking used brass?
     
  18. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about you but I like to start with totally clean brass. No leftover carbon inside or crud outside. Funny thing about "like new" brass, you don't have to mess with primer pocket cleaning or brushing out the necks. Don't have to wonder if there is enough carbon buildup inside to affect the performance of your load.

    The benefits of SS pin media are far more than just clean.

    Don't have to replace the pins as they never get dirty.

    They'll outlast many bags of "ground up Iowa Toilet Paper" or lizard litter.

    No dust around your vibrating tumbler.

    No cross contamination of lead as it's a dust free process.

    The process cleans the brass completely and it's easy to see any developing flaws as you can inspect the inside of the cases as well as outside.
    The clean interior allows one to see inside and the "case separation ring" is very visible if it's starting to form.

    For it's time, corncob polishing in vibrators was the "state of the art". Now the state of the art cleaning process is either ultrasonic or stainless pin tumbling. Unlike the ultrasonic method, SS Pins give a bit of a polish effect. It's just a matter of choice.
     
  19. trixter

    trixter Giles County Member

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    I like shiny brass, I don't know why, it just looks good. I have a Lyman 1200 and I use 'lizard litter' (walnut media) from the local pet store, put a cap full of "nu-car" polish and let it run about 20 to 30 minutes, then dump my brass in and cut two 1" strips of dryer sheet, (new or used, seems to work the same) and then let it run, sometimes 12 hours, over night and sometimes it goes 24 hours. I usually change right after getting home from work. Brass, 45's 223's, 300 Savage and 30-06, always come out clean and shiny. very inexpensive process.
     
  20. best defense

    best defense Beaverton, OR Active Member

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    One reason I like shiny brass is that when I shoot outside it is easier to find the brass if it reflects more light. It doesn't look like dirt.

    I have not tried the stainless steel pins yet. I was wondering if they are hard on the plastic tub of the tumblers, and also since the steel is so much harder than the brass do they have a shot-peen effect on brass?