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After doing some reading online about ultrasonic cleaning, decided to give it a try. A trip to the local Harbor Freight netted an ultrasonic cleaner that was on sale for $59 (reg price $79). Also grabbed a contair of granulated cleaner to add to water. Gave it a try. After 3 cycles of 8 minutes each, nothing. Still dirty. OK, so let's give the vinegar/soap treatment. WOW, couldn't believe how clean the casings were. Especially the insides. Used 50/50 water/white vinegar. Afterwards, ran a cycle of baking soda water. Didn't measure the soda carefully, just want to neutralize any vinegar that may be in the pores of the brass. Running another load of brass right now. The current load is resized and deprimed 30-06 and .357. The .357's are nickel finish. We'll see what happens to them.

Thought i'd give my 2 cents worth...
 

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The stuff they give you is very mild and for jewelry. The case's need a more powerful cleaner, you might want to try a solution using Purple Majic that can be gotten at the auto parts store.
 

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Hornady now sells an ultrasonic cleaner just for the purpose of cleaning brass. You can buy their solution separately, I'm sure. I don't know what's in it?
 

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Ammonia is a no no so stay away from ammonia based cleaners. I have read numerous
post on other gun sites about using a ultrasonic cleaner and seems like those using them
are having good results with the 50/50 vinegar/water solution.
 

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Ammonia is a no no so stay away from ammonia based cleaners. I have read numerous
post on other gun sites about using a ultrasonic cleaner and seems like those using them
are having good results.
Assume Ammonia is a no no because of chemical reaction? Maybe weakens the brass? The results were good with the vinegar/water solution followed by a water/baking soda bath.
 

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The stuff they give you is very mild and for jewelry. The case's need a more powerful cleaner, you might want to try a solution using Purple Majic that can be gotten at the auto parts store.
Is the Purple Majic similar to "Super Clean" that is purple in color and comes in 1 gallon jugs? If so, that's stuff's pretty potent. It does great removing grease anyhow. Found out the hard way that you don't want to use it straight on anything with a shiny finish. Worked for many years at a John Deere dealership and discovered that Super Clean does a good job removing the green grass stains from the yellow mower decks, HOWEVER, if you spray the green paint with the cleaner and leave it on for a minute or two, it will dull the clearcoat finish.
 

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I highly doubt one would use any cleaner full strength in any ultrasonic cleaner. The cleaner is there to disolve the dirt and carry it away, the sound waves are the mechanical means of doing that. The major idea of the ultrasonic cleaner is to use less of the cleaning agent so small delicat parts are not affected by the cleaning agent. Thats why you use a diluted solution

You can clean almost anything if you know what to use. You could have used just plain hand soap to get the grass stains off the mower deck and it would have worked great.
 

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You can clean almost anything if you know what to use. You could have used just plain hand soap to get the grass stains off the mower deck and it would have worked great.[/QUOTE]

Did try various types of soaps. None seemed to really take the stain off...except super clean. Anyhow, have better things to do now rather than worrying about grass stains on mower decks.
 

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I'll bet some of the modern laundry pre-soaks would have worked on grass stains?

Ultrasonics need the right mass and viscosity fluid in them at the right level to achieve resonance of the bath. They likely also need enough water there to form the cavitation nodes that break up the dirt. So, a heavy syrup-like cleaner might well be counterproductive in one. However, you can pre-soak cases in something to soften the carbon, then let the ultra-sonic break it up mechanically. Ed's Red, for example.

If you want to know what ammonia does to cartridge brass, do a search on "season cracking". The Wikipedia actually covers it pretty well, as I recall.
 

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I just purchased an Ultrasonic Cleaner, actually the Harbor Freight version of the Hornady's big brother. (You probably realize that the Hornady is just a case of taking an existing jewelry cleaner and putting a different sticker on it and a better plastic basket inside.)

Anyway, I have not yet had a chance to use it, so take what I say with a grain of salt...

Being an older nerd who was on the internet before Al Gore invented it, searching for information is second nature to me. This is what I discovered:

50/50 White vinegar to water solution with a few drops of dish soap (Palmolive or anything similar) is the most popular and apparently effective solution for cleaning brass. The dish soap is a surfactant that helps the dirt and such stay in suspension. This is followed up with a water/baking soda solution, although oddly, there doesn't seem to be a firm consensus as to the amount of baking soda to use. I did see a few posts here and there that mentioned using a tablespoon or two, but that's secondhand info. As I said, I haven't tried it yet, and wont until I get back from a trip I have to make. I'm just passing along what I discovered in the hope that you find it useful.

Some folks also like to stack their brass mouth down, so the dirt can fall to the bottom of the tank. I think I'll be trying that.

When I get a chance to try it, I'll post a followup.
 

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It's kind of like using baking soda on battery terminals. Use enough to neutralize the remaning acid solution on the cases. I don't beleve there is any baking soda action on the brass. It just insures that there is no acid left.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
[

Some folks also like to stack their brass mouth down, so the dirt can fall to the bottom of the tank. I think I'll be trying that.

Curious how you're going to get the brass to stay put. Mine vibrate around some inside the tank. I have observed that some areas of the tank clean better than other. I'm thinking that it's a characteristic of the way the sound waves move through the water. Remember from physics class how waves have constructive and destructive interference as they collide. Most of the cases when they're cleaned, the inside is shiny clean.

Another observation. Don't get in a hurry to load up the newly cleaned brass. Make SURE they are dry inside. I've warming them in the toaster oven at about 110 degrees F for about 3 hours. Then wait a day or two at least. If not, you will find an occasional drop or two of water inside the cases or in the primer hole.
 

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So does the ultrasonic cleaner just clean the powder and primer residue from inside the case? Then do you still have to use a vibrator type cleaner to clean and polish the outside?
 

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The Ultrasonic will take all dirt and grit off, so no, you don't need to tumble unless you like the appearance better.

Jburke,

My 2.5 gal ultrasonic has a lid substitute with 4 holes in it for suspending four 500 ml beakers in in the bath. As long as the liquid underneath comes up to the liquid line inside the US tub, that works. You can put cases into it mouth-down and maybe get them tight enough to avoid them falling down, but I'd be concerned that too tight would interfere with outside cleaning. Besides, I haven't yet seen a cleaning solution I wouldn't want to rinse off afterward. Just put the cases in a bucket of water and toss them around by hand. If you think some grit may still be in some cases, then the argument for a post US polishing tumble might be there after all?

As to drying, the main problem is the same as dirt caught inside: getting the last little bit out. I've bundled the cases into an old Towel and shaken them. That removes a surprising amount, but not every trace. You can immerse the cases in a water miscible solvent, like isopropyl alcohol or acetone, which dissolves the water and subsequently lets the cases dry more readily. You could put the cases in boiling water and use tongs to pick them out and shake them off. The heat will dry them and form a protective oxide layer on the brass. Good, but a lot of bother. Or you could do what I do after the towel, which is to lay a rag onto a cookie sheet and set each case mouth down on it. I usually blow the water out of the flash hole as I pick up each case, and tap the case mouth against the rag to shake the water down. Then I let them sit for a day. After that I just knock them over and let them sit for a week.

A dip in distilled water will keep watermarks from forming.
 

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Ultrasonic and alcohol? How would that work on cleaning? Alcohol does dissipate
water, what does it do with vinegar?
 

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I spilled vinegar on one of my guns several years ago and by the time i cleaned it off the factory hot blue was stripped to bare metal... I don't want it anywhere near my guns or cases.
 

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I have the larger Harbor Freight ultrasonic device and find it good for what I bought it for, cleaning small mechanical things like chain saw carborators. But for cases, it's not much good. It won't do more than maybe a dozen cases at a time very well, that takes a lot more power than most small ultrasonics have.

A vinegar soak - straight, diluted, soap, salt, etc or not - does a good job of loosening the internal carbon layer and any surface tarnish but doesn't "remove" the carbon for me. After the vinegar, I give cases a quick rinse in a soda solution to prevent green corrsion inside. I sometimes speed drying with a blast of air from my shop compressor. Later I tumble them normally and the media DOES remove virtually all of the loosened carbon. Then a bronze bore brush spun in a drill cleans inside the necks perfectly.
 
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