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Ultrasonic Die Cleaning

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by dustinm, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. dustinm

    dustinm The BEAVER State Member

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    Today I got on a cleaning kick and decided since I was having such success with my Hornaday 2L ultrasonic cleaner on gun parts, I would use it on my reloading dies. It didn't go well. I should have ran a test run before putting $500 worth of dies in the cleaner all at once. It took them from a nice shiny factory color to dull bare metal, which I assume will rust by morning. I was using the regular parts cleaner solution at the factory reccomended dilution level. I have dried them with pressurized air and sprayed a pretty liberal amount of oil on them until I figure out what to do next.
     
  2. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Well at least they're clean.
     
  3. Gonzales

    Gonzales Albany, OR Member

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    Did they come out with a ruff matte type finish?
    Do you have a picture?
     
  4. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Your cleaner thingy probably needs cleaned.
     
  5. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    Clp them now and you will be fine. Just wipe out the inside prior to use
     
  6. dustinm

    dustinm The BEAVER State Member

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    They are RCBS dies and had the polished aluminum look. Now they are black. Looks like unfinished steel. I will snap a picture tomorrow. I might be able to sell them as black tactical reloading dies. :)

    The ultrasonic cleaner had new water with the gun part cleaner in it. The temp was set to 140 degrees and they ran for 15 min.

    I hit them each with Tri flow lubricant and put them in individual ziplock bags.
     
  7. F2CMaDMaXX

    F2CMaDMaXX West of Portland from England Bullet goes where now? Staff Member Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I think it acted in a similar way to de-ruster (not rust converter) - it doesn't like alloys, causes them to go black as it reacts and the metal gets eaten away.

    I'd be careful on measurements with them just in case.
     
  8. oknow

    oknow amboy wa. Well-Known Member

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    Note to self. Be sure to check thoroughly if buying anything from this member.
     
    JB11rx and F2CMaDMaXX like this.
  9. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I find it interesting and noteworthy that that solution discolored that steel.. however, big whoop.. I'm sure that the dies are dimensionally unchanged.
    One "solvent" that I just don't like is Simple Green.. it'll do odd and bad things to things you pretty much woulda bet or thought wouldn't happen.
     
  10. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I'm not really sure what the "solution at proper dilution is" however, my guess is you passivated the surface of your dies and somehow managed to turn the surface into black oxide. Usually this takes a higher temp to accomplish. I usually do my hot-dipping at about 290F in a hydroxide bath. Nasty nasty stuff, will eat right through everything you hold dear and by god keep aluminum at least 20 feet away from that pot. Does a fine job on steel though...
     
  11. F2CMaDMaXX

    F2CMaDMaXX West of Portland from England Bullet goes where now? Staff Member Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Those blocks weren't steel if they reacted that way, sounds like an alloy.
     
  12. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    How can you say that when you/we don't know what the "cleaner" was? Last I checked they commonly sell stuff to any swinging dick that'll blacken steel.
     
  13. F2CMaDMaXX

    F2CMaDMaXX West of Portland from England Bullet goes where now? Staff Member Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    As i said, if it blackened it and roughened up the finish, then it was eating it.
     
  14. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I understand the concept of chicken littledom but also understand that something that has been discolored hasn't necessarily been structurally compromised.
     
  15. F2CMaDMaXX

    F2CMaDMaXX West of Portland from England Bullet goes where now? Staff Member Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Kinda waiting for the OP to come back with the pics, i was going off the 'unfinished steel' look, we have to see before i can 'commit' to my falling sky ;)
     
  16. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I hear you. I'd do the same before final judgment also.
     
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  17. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    FYI, steel is pretty forgiving for the chemistry and temps you put it under... I don't even start to consider a change in steel unless the temp is over 500F, and exposure is longer than 4 hours. Iron, while it likes to form oxides, takes quite a while for most acids to really get going on it, even concentrated fuming hydrochloric takes a while to do more than bubble.

    Unless your dies are badly pitted on the inside, I think you're probably fine, and even then you may still be fine, as dies can be polished. If they're RCBS dies, you can send them in for re-polishing.
     
  18. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Bare steel is not Black not even close to Black bare steel is a Gray color evident by the color of steel when sand blasted. So one of two things had to have happened here either the surface of the steel was chemically changed like some kind of Oxidation or it has some type of coating on it like some sort of residue.
     
  19. dustinm

    dustinm The BEAVER State Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. Sorry it's taken so long to get a picture, life happens. Here is my carbide .45 ACP dies. One was cleaned in the ultrasonic cleaner and the other wasn't. My hornaday 2L cleaner gets up to 140 degrees and I used the normal gun parts cleaner that I use on all my other gun parts without problems. I have decided to use the dies as long as they will hold out. They currently are coated with a layer of gun oil that can be easily removed prior to use, then reapplied for storage. Sending this more as a FYI for others to use caution.

    image.jpg
     
  20. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Blackened steel, like the kind you find with blued is a selective oxidation process where you're turning the surface of the material to Iron (II) oxide FeO2 rust is Iron (III) oxide Fe2O3, which in it's crystal form takes up more space than the underlying iron, which is why it spalls off. Typically, a blued finish is obtained one of two ways... first by exposure to a strong oxidizer (nitric acid vapor is a common one) at which point the Iron (III) oxide is rubbed off. The second is by hot dipping in a salt bath, which rapidly oxidizes, but selectively forms the Iron II oxide. There are some other methods, however typically they only color the metal, not encourage a molecular change: i.e. Cold bluing.

    Those look pretty cool, FYI, you're not likely to damage the carbide, it's pretty inert chemically. I usually clean my dies with brake cleaner and then re-oil.