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Think I"ll give up tumbling cases

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by P7id10T, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Bought a 2.5 liter ultrasonic cleaner at Harbor Freight with a timer and tank heater. Finally pulled it out today.
    Used 1 quart tap water, 1 quart distilled white vinegar ($3.08/gallon @ Winco), 1 tsp Cream of Tartar (~10¢) and three shakes of "Barkeeper's Friend", which is Oxalic acid (~2¢).
    Did 100 cases of 338 Lapua Mag and 200 cases of 7mm Rem Mag in under 35 minutes. What I _really_ liked is how clean the INSIDE of the cases got. When I finished, the water was black.

    Here's what the Lapua Mags looked like. Two clean ones on the outside, a dirty one on the inside. The photo may not do it justice, but there's a huge difference in my eyes between the dirty and clean ones.

    2013-02-12_21-27-24_190.jpg

    2013-02-12_21-27-24_190.jpg
     
  2. Whitey375

    Whitey375 Eugene, Oregon Active Member

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    Cool. That's fast too. What's the dry off procedure?

    Sent from my HTC Sensation 4G using Tapatalk 2
     
  3. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I shook them out, rolled them in a clean (rag) towel, put 'em in a box neck down and placed in front of the heat register. Some guys give it a bake in the oven for 15 minutes, and that would almost guarantee they would be completely dry. I just examined 20 and one (BHA) had a tiny bit of water in the bottom still, so next time I think I'll give them a bake.
    What does amaze me is how clean the inside of the cases are. You can really see the difference in the case manufacture. Lapua cases have a nice, thick bottom with smooth shoulders, kind of like a bowl. The Hornady cases are more like a cup at the bottom with a much tighter corner. The Black Hills are almost like a wine bottle with a punt. That would tell me these take greater pressures, but of all the cases these are the only ones that still had crud inside, caught up around the edges of the bottom.
     
  4. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    The cases look great. Have you tried cleaning them using only a detergent without all the acidic additives?

    I've seen some ultrasonic cleaners do a remarkable job with just water and dawn dish washing liquid.

    As for drying completely, when mine come out of the "bath" (I'm using pins, not the ultrasonic) I just anneal the cases and presto, they're dry.
     
  5. M4 AR

    M4 AR Ridgefield, Wa. Member

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    I use the hornady case cleaner and distilled water. Rinse afterward, air dry on a bath towel for an hour, then bake @170 for 10-15 min. Clean and dry everytime.
     
  6. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Deadshot, if you anneal them, you must be hitting 650°F or so. What, do you have a Blue M oven in your garage? I'm jealous! Do you quench them or let them air cool?
    Barkeep's Friend has some detergent in it. Didn't use just dishsoap like Dawn because the 7mm I have were pretty cruddy from laying in good ol' Oregon red clay while shooting in the Tillamook Forest. The discoloration wouldn't come off with a walnut tumbling.
    M4 - yeah, I'm gonna bake mine next time.
     
  7. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Uh, I think you have me convinced! How much was the HF unit? I am getting tired of tumbling, and then sometimes doing a 2nd liquid wash to get them moderately clean
     
  8. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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  9. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    I believe the heater is a necessity and it appears the $75 one is working just fine for you! I have been reading a lot about ultrasonic cleaners and they appear to be the wave of the future - or the now. I suspect one could strip a gun and use it to clean it also.
     
  10. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    When annealing brass, you only want to anneal the case neck/shoulder area, you want the base of the cartridge to remain hard, otherwise even moderate pressures will cause the brass to flow into the case extractor and bolt head area. Usually means bad ju-ju as it can also result in case head ruptures.
     
    P7id10T and (deleted member) like this.
  11. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    While ultrasonic cleaning adds a few steps in the case preparation phase it's time well used in my opinion. I use a Hornady unit and Hornady solution. I clean each batch for 2-3 cycles (max time), rinse them, and set them on the shoe rack that can go in my dryer. 20 minutes later I have dry brass that then goes into a tumbler for about an hour. No more tumbling for a half a day.
     
  12. Mattofsmatt

    Mattofsmatt Portland Member

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    We use an ultrasonic cleaner at my businesses. For awhile, in lieu of the heated models, We used unheated and an electric kettle, and just put very hot water in and started the sonics. The ultrasonic vibration creates a pretty decent amount of heat, so for a 20 minute wash, starting at near boiling would generally end at about 170F. I would think that would be sufficient for case-cleaning. We were using it for electronics (iPhone repair). That being said, the heated models that we use now are very convenient! :)
     
  13. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    OK so I can see flame impingement here. Heat to what temperature? Is it bad juju to ever hit 950 (dull red)?
    Do you quench it afterward or open air cool?

    Guess I'll pull up some info on brass metallurgy. Hitherto only dealt with steels and ductile iron for that....
     
  14. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Rifle brass annealing isn't done in an oven. I use a Bernz-O-Matic torch and a socket turned in a cordless drill. Heat only the shoulder area until I can get a 750 degree heat crayon to just start to smear when touched to the edge of the shoulder. I then just drop the brass case into a stainless steel mixing bowl to cool.
    Quenching doesn't add anything to brass annealing but a "wet case". 4-6 seconds in the flame gives me the desired temp. I find that annealing after every shooting gives me the longest brass life and most consistent neck tension. This way, I also don't have to keep track of how many reloadings between annealing on the cases I have in storage.
     
  15. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    You really aren't "annealing" in the true sense of the word. Reloaders use "annealing" when a more appropriate term might be "stress relieving". All we want to do is make sure that the amount of "spring back" when sizing the neck/shoulder area is uniform. A case that has been work-hardened more than another will actually measure different dimensions when taken from the sizing die due to the springiness worked into the brass.
     
  16. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Annealing: my dad taught me, when I broke a cold chisel, to re-grind it, then heat it to bright cherry, quench it, then anneal by heating it to hot black (~850, just below visible dull red) and quenching it in oil again. I bypassed the second step once, and the first time I used the chisel again, it shattered.
    I could have told you about the crystalline structures 25 years ago, but it has since been replaced by a plethora of other useless information.
     
  17. BAMCIS

    BAMCIS Eugene Well-Known Member

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    I was accused of buying and reloading new brass by one of my non-reloading buddies when he saw some of the brass I had waiting on componants. I assured him I knew it was once fired brass because I'm the one who fired it.

    I tumble my brass in a Thumler's tumbler, stainless pins and nothing else but liquid Dawn and hot water.

    The water turns almost black, but the brass turns out looking like new. Including the insides and the primer pockets.

    As for drying........ I just lay it all out on a towel and air dry for at least 48 hours behind my easy chair in my living room. Then it goes into an ammo can that I leave open.

    If there is some interest I'll post before and after pictures.
     
  18. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Annealing brass is a vastly different process than steel...

    Brass gets harder as a result of cold work, it does not get harder as a result of heating. Further, the two most important aspects of heat treatment of brass are temperature and time. You can heat the brass up to 500F for over an hour before any change occurs, or you could take it to 800F for 30 seconds.

    Somewhere around here I have a chart that gives the DPM hardness change based on time and temp, I'm looking for it.
     
  19. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    For me..........

    Pistol rounds......hey, I'm using carbide dies. So, I don't worry about any cleaning.

    But for rifle rounds, since my dies are NOT carbide......

    Well, I gave up tumbling a long time ago. And, I don't need any fancy equipment to get my cases "clean enough" for reloading. In other words.......my brass cases don't have to "glint in the sun."

    Hot water, dish washing soap and a bit of Lemi Shine. Agitate, soak (a couple of cycles), rinse w/ clean hot water, dry and I'm done.

    Aloha, Mark
     
  20. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Even with carbide it's not a bad idea to clean even if it's just a little. Get enough gunk in the carbide die and it can scratch the shih-tsu out of the brass. Depending on how big and how abrasive that grit is, it can be pretty bad.

    When I'm tumbling small amounts of rifle brass, I'll often include a handful of pistol brass just to fill out the load. Easy to sort afterwards and there's nothing wrong with "clean".