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Is it nescessary to clean brass?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by taylor, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering( after buying a Lyman 1200 pro cleaner) why even clean the dirty brass. couldn't you just quick wipe with a brasso damp towel to get the burnt powder off? Who cares if its shiney and new looking. Is there any proof that going through the tumbling procedure extends the life of brass at all?
     
  2. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    It helps extend the life of the dies more than the brass in my opinion. I dont always clean mine as long as the brass was clean of debri inside and out but I make sure inside has no heavy residue as well as checking primer pocket after removing spent primer. I have been reloading that way for years and have had no issues myself. I would however suggest watching for cracks as tarnish can sometimes make it hard to see them.
     
  3. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a scientist but it would seem that banging against each other would stress the structural integrity of the case after many hours of tumbling.
    I think I'll just wipe off the cases just before inserting them into the dies.
     
  4. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    An ultrasonic cleaner is better as to not hit brass together but also a little more costly. I usually use a little carb cleaner in walnut shell media (cuts down tumble time) then just a quick rinse in dish soap and dry.
     
  5. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    talk to me when you done just wiping off 600 9mm cases. If you can handle that you fingers are much better then mine.
    Dirty brass is hard on dies hard on chambers and hard on itself.
     
  6. chowser2

    chowser2 seaside Member

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    if you don't make sure to get all the dirt off of the brass you can scratch the inside of your sizing die. This will then cause your sizing dies to scratch you cases. I thought I could get a away with not cleaning my cases and have ruined a sizing die. (800+ cases of ALMOST clean brass is not a good idea)
     
  7. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    DO NOT USE BRASSO ON SHELL CASINGS. Brasso contains ammonia, which forms complexes with copper that much like iron (III) oxide is larger than the base metal and causes mechanical corrosion. Some people use it anyways, but it's a very bad practice, also your brass will tarnish significantly faster than brass that was tumbled.

    You don't really have to tumble brass, and you don't really have to clean it, but it will be hard on your reloading dies. Personally I advocate washing brass with soap and a mild acid to remove as much of the lead fouling (from the primer) as possible, acids that form water soluable lead compounds work best, oxalic acid, acetic acid (vinegar), and occasionally dilute sulfuric. Tumbling is just a burnishing and polishing process that will make your brass look that much better.

    As to the brass banging against itself, this is not an issue, as it requires reworking to harden brass, and tumbling does not deform it significantly to cause work hardening. I've heard claims made by people who sell stainless tumbling media that the repeated pummeling with the media increases the density of the surface making it stronger, however all of those media types are done in water, which limits the velocity of the media to the point where I doubt that would happen. When you're using corncob or walnut media this is less of an issue, because the media is squishy, and prevents the brass from banging into other shells at a high rate of speed.

    If you want more info, there's already a thread about tumbling and cleaning brass, and there's a picture of my tumbler at the bottom of page 2. As you can see I'm a big fan of tumbling brass, but I'm a commercial loader and I want my ammo to look as good as new ammo would.
     
  8. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    Thank you very much for your comments.
     
  9. jib

    jib Central OR Active Member

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    I tumble my brass for about an hour, shake the dust off and then resize it, and then clean the primer pockets if needed.
     
  10. moose

    moose northwet coast Well-Known Member

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    I did a lot of reloading before I ever bought a tumbler.

    Its like a lot of things you do. The more parts of the process you control, the more precise your product.

    Now, I polish and clean ammo several times during the reloading process.
     
  11. twa2471

    twa2471 Vermont Active Member

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    Ultrasonics work well but wet + toxic I love just good old walnut shell and let them percolate overnight and bingo,ready to go. Yes dirty brass will definatly score the inside of dies, later scoring every peice of brass you put through there. Rember guys we're working with 50,000 CUP and tolerances in the tens of thousanths,why would you not want to. It also shortens the life of your brass as well as your'e dies.The last thing I'd want is to have a FTF or a split/jamed case after working a scoring buck all season !!! That would SUCK !!! I want all my ammo to never let me down, be it a trophy buck or life and death situation, your choice though.
     
  12. SVT-ROY

    SVT-ROY Tigard Resident Beretta guru

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    I use a quart of water, cup of vinegar, and dash of dish soap. Shake in any kind of container with lid for 10 min. I did 400 yesterday, amazing job.
     
  13. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    In well over 30 years of reloading, I've always hated the thought of putting dirty ammo in any of my firearms. Dirt, whether from the environment or from previous firings, that can end up in the action or actually hinder the performance of the ammo.

    I used to clean mine by tumbling or using a vibratory cleaner. Lots of ground corn-cob and walnut shell, polish, and DUST. I recently changed and am now using a media that consists of Stainless Steel Pins (think small rods that are about the size of a mechanical pencil lead, about 1/4" long). Brass is now tumbled in a mixture of dawn dish soap, an anti-spotting agent used in dishwashers, and 5# of these pins.

    No more Dust and the cases have absolutely NO dirt or carbon buildup on the outside, inside, and even the primer pockets. The brass looks like it is brand new, actually better than some new stuff.

    For those that are worried about damage from tumbling, this isn't like a bunch of brass tubes just bouncing around in a tumbler, the cases are cushioned by whatever media you use, be it water, or corn-cob. The real issue is the work hardening from sizing.

    After a couple of loading/shooting cycles, it isn't a bad idea to anneal the cases if you want to get lots of loads out of them. Also, avoid hot loads that push the case to the limits.
     
  14. atakawow

    atakawow Seattle, WA Member

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    OP, I assume you don't reload for pistol? How in the world do you plan on hand wiping off a 20 lb bucket of brass one by one? Scratch that, I'm more interested in seeing how you can clean the INSIDE of each brass in an efficient manner of time to justify saving that $30 on a tumbler. That $30 lets you plug it in, go to bed, by the time you wake up, you got yourself a bucket of shiny, good to go brass.

    Newbies to reloading, a tumbler is a MUST have item if you plan to get started in reloading. It will save you a ton of headache and frustration.
     
  15. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I won't say a tumbler is a must have, as washing the cases works almost as good (doesn't get that really good new brass finish) but it gets all the grime off.
     
  16. turq

    turq Molino,oregon Member

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    Here's a tip to dry those cases that are wet with water; try putting about a cup of 90% isopropyl alcohol to speed up the drying. Mix it in after getting as much water out as possible. Good Luck
     
  17. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    You can also take a bucket that has holes poked in it on one end, and a big hole that you can stick a hair dryer into on the other. Drys brass all quick and nice.
     
  18. twa2471

    twa2471 Vermont Active Member

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    I don't know I've heard allot of methods, I still think the one I like best is the stainless rods. I've not tried that one, and have used the walnut shell and corn cob methods for years, and yes it can be dusty. When I reload I save up my brass and set up for a single caliber and do a marithon session, usually reload about 1k at a time. Then it go's into long term storage so I'm very learry about any liquid method. I'm esspecally learry on my hunting or defense loads, failure of any type is not an option. Last thing I'd want is to have a failure or poor performance after scouting a Boone + Crocket buck all season, that would be a bummer!! deadshot2 Where did you obtain your stainless media, I'd like to try that out?
     
  19. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Here's a link to the site where I ordered mine. Stainless tumbling Media

    There are other sources but I found this to be "expedient" as all I wanted was 5#. Arrived a few days after ordering in a Prepaid USPS box.

    There are some greag before and after pics on the site. Here's a couple of my cases, before and after:
    016.jpg
    015.jpg

    These are a couple of old crusty .307 cases I cut in half to show the results on the inside of the case. They had both been through a "walnut shell/corncob" cleaning before I ran them with the Stainless media.

    (note: the discoloration on the inside is from annealing.)

    I don't even need to touch the primer pockets when they come out of this cleaning process. As I said earlier, these are old military cases (headstamped 68) and were real crusty. All my newer, civilian brass look like jewelry when they come out of the process although the finish is more satin than mirror.

    I've put all my corncob/walnut shell media in storage. May drag it out if I want any "mirror finished" brass but I'll clean it with the stainless first to get the insides clean.

    As for the "liquid method", I rinse mine under the hottest water from my tap (about 125 degrees), shake it in a towel, and lay it out to dry overnight. It's bone dry when I get to it the next morning. If I was in a hurry, I could always blow it out with compressed air or as some have suggested, dip it in alcohol and it will dry almost instantaneously then.
     
  20. twa2471

    twa2471 Vermont Active Member

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    Thanks for the link, I'm defenatly going to try this stuff out. It looks like a winner to me. Thanks Les