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  #1  
Old 01-24-2009, 10:29 PM
KEC KEC is offline
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cleaning brass


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How do most of you clean your brass, and is a tumbler necessary? If so what is the best bang for your buck? I wont be doing a lot but I do have some tarnished brass that should be cleaned.
Keith
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2009, 11:05 PM
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For small amounts of brass an 8 buck Lee trimmer chucked in an electric drill or drill press and a piece of 00 thru 0000 steel wool does a grand job. I cleaned brass this way for lots of years before I bought a tumbler. It does a great job, is quick and a very small investment.
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  #3  
Old 01-25-2009, 06:38 AM
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If you don't mind spending the time after each range/shooting session cleaning each piece of brass by hand, you don't need a tumbler.

You can also prepare some liquid brass cleaner using 50/50 vinegar/water, half teaspoon salt, and a squirt of dishwasher detergent in a large plastic bottle. Agitate the brass, let soak overnight, rinse thoroughly, then rack the cases mouth down to dry. Cases will be clean but the tarnish may not be completely removed.

If you'd rather be doing something else, the vibratory tumbler is a very handy tool to have. You dump all your brass into the tumbler along with a little brass polish, watch the game while having a beer and an hour or so later, retrieve clean brass from your tumbler. Your choice.

Tumblers are relatively inexpensive. I've been using mine for well over ten years which breaks down to less than $5 a year. I spend more than that on potato chips. If you have budget constraints, you might consider a used tumbler from an auction site. I bought one that way and it works fine. I no longer polish cases by hand. Been there, done that. All my brass goes into the tumbler. Range pickups go through the liquid brass cleaner first. Just my dos centavos, YMMV.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:21 AM
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I've cleaned a grand total of thirty-three (that's 33) cases, so take this for what it's worth.....

- I run a worn-out .30 brush through the case mouth a few times;
- Lube, resize, and decap the old primer;
- Clean the primer pocket with a Lee tool;
- Soak like Marshal said in his solution (on one batch I boiled the cases in that solution and didn;t notice much difference, maybe a tad with the primer pocket being cleaner);
- Rinse in HOT (that's HOT) water, blow out with an air hose, and let dry upright in an ammo tray;
- Trim and chamfer with the Lee trimmer;
- Then I spin the cases with 0000 steel wool like Bob said. That little Lee case holder in the cordless drill works wonders.

That got my 33 ! cases pretty doggone clean. In fact, impressively so.

I ordered a tumbler and media (on backorder), but I'm really having second thoughts that it'll be needed. Maybe later on down the road. Plus, maybe my wife and little girl can find some things to tumble in-between brass use....maybe.
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  #5  
Old 01-25-2009, 07:40 AM
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There is a difference between "clean" and "shiney". Clean is all that is necessary before running cases through the resizing die and reloading shootable ammunition. A little household dish soap with a bit of vinegar and water is all that is necessary. Now if you want shiney, you need to get the Lee trimmer as suggested above or a tumbler/vibrator case polisher if you have bunches of cases and not much time. Personally, I use the soap/vinegar/water solution to clean my cases, then I resize, punch out the primers, and brush the primer pockets, then, because I have the time (retired), I demonstrate how fussy I am and run them through my tumbler for a while so they will be super shiney/pretty when I reload. When I reload, I wear thin cloth gloves so as not to get fingerprints on my cases. All this is totally unnecessary, but as I said, I have the time and I love my ammunition looking like it just came from the factory. I know that I am anal retentive, so no need to critcize. I simply love reloading and want my product to demonstrate this.
Moosie

Last edited by moosie; 01-25-2009 at 07:41 AM. Reason: emphasis
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  #6  
Old 01-25-2009, 08:03 AM
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Hey Keith,
I've been using the hot water, vinegar, and dishwashing detergent method to clean my .45 ACP brass and it does a pretty good job. I then spin the cases with 0000 steel wool like Bob said using the Lee case holder and cordless drill. Being anal retentive too like moosie (nothing wrong with that moosie), I use a .45 caliber wool mop and swab the inside of the case, but that's totally unnecessary. Just something I do. I also deprime and clean the primer pockets with the Lee tool.

Greg
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2009, 12:05 PM
KEC KEC is offline
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Thanks Guys
Think I will be going with the drill for a while and buy a couple extra rounds of bullets with that 100.00 .
Keith
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2009, 03:54 PM
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I went several years using the dish soap method to clean the brass. It works decent and I got them clean of all debris, but not shiny. But after a few years of reloading I bought a Frankford Arsenal tumbler in a kit from Midway and haven't looked back. Those that say it is unnecessary are right, but I enjoy having fresh, factory-new looking reloads. It all depends on how clean you want them, and how much time vs money you want to spend.
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  #9  
Old 01-26-2009, 05:58 AM
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moosie & gstring120,

Bet you guys draw a crowd looking at your brass at the range. Have to admit it's a NICE feeling having reloaded brass looking "factory new"! Something akin to looking at your car after a wash and wax.
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  #10  
Old 01-26-2009, 11:28 AM
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I love my Lyman Tumbler. I just cleaned 100 30-30 cases last night by dumping them in the tumbler and letting it run for 3 hours. The brass looks new. I would suggest investing in a tumbler if you are doing a lot of reloading!
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  #11  
Old 01-26-2009, 05:17 PM
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Tumbler works....but like you, i started without one...put water and simple green in a three pound coffee can....set it on my fish cooker....boiled away....cleans them up real good but they were ugly.....as stated above...clean is important..shinin is pride..
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  #12  
Old 01-26-2009, 05:30 PM
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For many years,I cleaned my cases with vinegar and water,with a good pinch of salt.
They did'nt look too good,but I knew that they were clean.
fifteen,or so, years ago,I splurged on a tumbler.Smartest investment that I ever made.The cases are cleaner,shinier and with no work.
Frank
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:02 PM
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As I said, I have a tumbler on order (backorder) with 10lbs of corn cob coming. BUT!... I'm at the stage right now (some of you guys probably can;t remember this except with wafting nostalgia ) where every little thing is important and a joy to do. At the bench spinning the cases with steel wool or trimming is all mental therapy. When I pick up a once-fired case, stick the Lee trimmer in and turn it, and it's already under length, I feel ripped off!

So, for now anyway, I'll be boiling, soaking, neutrilizing, rinsing, and shining ((( )))
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  #14  
Old 01-27-2009, 05:22 AM
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I use the Frankfurt Arsenal tumbler with a cap full of NUfinish car polish added. Cases look like new after a two hour tumble. My little grandson loves loading and unloading the tumbler for me so I got it made.
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  #15  
Old 01-28-2009, 08:35 PM
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My son and I shoot western action so we have a fair amount of brass to clean in a few different calibers, .45 colt, .38sp, .357mag, 45-70 and .45acp (for not cowboy stuff). I bought a grafs tumbler http://www.grafs.com/product/187926 mine is the 240v export model as I am in Australia, I like this tumbler as it has a decent capacity, give a good swirling action to the cases no matter the size I load it by using a jug so all of its loads are the same its the brass quantity that changes so the volume in the tub is around the same.

I started off using corn cob media and then got walnut media, the walnut is dustier than the corn cob so I will be switching back, both are used dry, I found the corn cob also is a bit more abrasive giving the cases a more brushed finish. Both clean pretty well but I am not too fussy about how they look as far as smoke stains and shine go just so long as there are no bits left.

My loads are not "hot" so I get a large number of reloads from cases, when I started with only about 300 x .38sp cases I know I got some cases loaded up to around +20 times and there are a few of them originals still in the mix, now I run around 1000 cases of each so they get done in batches through the tumbler when I see the stock of cleans getting low.

I am not some one who has to come off a range every time with every piece of my brass, my theory is if I lose a few it just creates some turnover so failures will be less.

The tumbler is always filled to capacity and runs on a digital timer so it doesn't have to be baby sat, 2 hours on 2 hours off 4 times in a day so it's filled at night, runs during the day and emptied in the evening.

I have heard of a couple of people who have had a tumbler "walk" off a bench so mine used to sit on the floor, I never saw that it ever walked so now its on a bench but for Insurance I have 3 screws evenly spaced around it with about 1/2" clearance so if it does wander it can't go too far.

I have been contemplating using some polish in with the media but apart from the gloss I don't see a need for it for what I do.

I decap on the turret press when reloading after cleaning and only check cases for length in random samples and havent had any issue with over length or splits, again I only decap random samples on the sinlge stage press and haven't had an issue with primer pockets either.

This way of doing things seems to work well for me and what I shoot, with the minimum of input and maximum efficiency.

Regards

Lazy Dave

Last edited by Lazy Dave; 01-28-2009 at 08:45 PM.
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  #16  
Old 01-29-2009, 08:13 AM
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Lazy Dave,
You can put some cut up dryer sheets in your walnut media and cut down on the dust problems. Since you are shooting straight sided cartridges and not loading hot, case lenght is likely not going to be a problem you will deal with. Your cases will probably begin to split at the mouth before they grow so much as to need trimming. Trimmers are needed mostly for rifle cases with shoulders and shooters who load toward the top end of the limits.
Moosie
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  #17  
Old 01-30-2009, 05:49 AM
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The Frankford Arsenal Tumbler kit from Midway is a great value for small batch reloading. It comes with everything you need to get started. Over the years I have tried many method's but utilizing a tumbler is by far the easiest Feel it up, turn it on, and walk away. Before I de-prim/re-size I run the case's for about an hour in Walnut hull media with nothing added. Then I deprim/resize and run them through the tumbler with treated corn media for an hour. My concerns are not to have "factory looking" brass but to save wear on my dies
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  #18  
Old 01-31-2009, 08:48 AM
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When I used to polish my brass I made a soft wood tapered spindle. I'd chuck the spindle in a drill, push the case on the spindle, mouth first, and spin it in a bit of steel wool or a rag soaked in brass polish, and I could get to the base too. Lots of work, but I had the time. I now use a rock tumbler I got from Harbor Freight ($30 as I remember). It'll only hold about 90 - 100 44 Magnum cases, but for my reloading that's enough. BTW, it is a lot quieter than a vibrating case cleaner.
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Old 01-31-2009, 03:05 PM
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I really like watching a good movie with a bowl of popcorn on by lap, and yet, I think it's even MORE enjoyable to do so with a loading block full of cases on my lap, along with a rag and a little JB bore compound. I get entertained, I don't get the harmful effects of eating starch and salt, I exersise my hands and forearms, and I get some mighty good looking cases. How can you beat that?
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  #20  
Old 02-11-2009, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshal Kane View Post
moosie & gstring120,

Bet you guys draw a crowd looking at your brass at the range. Have to admit it's a NICE feeling having reloaded brass looking "factory new"! Something akin to looking at your car after a wash and wax.
Hmm. Thanks for the idea Marshall. I never thought about waxing my brass!

Greg
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