Case cleaning

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  • Last Post 26 June 2015
CB posted this 01 August 2012

I've decided to get away from case tumblers and go to some sort of liquid based cleaning system for cases. I've found a Thumlers 12 pound drum type cleaner locally that I'd use with stainless media, but I can also get a deal on one of the larger ultrasonic cleaners too. I'm tired of trying to weigh the pros and cons of each. Which type do you have, and what do you like or dislike about it?

Thanks Bob

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afish4570 posted this 01 August 2012

I have the big Dillon unit and use walnut shells bought at Petco....price has taken a jump so will buy a large qty. like around 25 to 50 #. Will clean alot of cases at one time.  With alittle car polish (bought at Dollar store) they come out decent.  The wet method may be cheaper over the long haul cause they last forever and the cases come out like new.  Show quality cases are not my goal.  I do wash the cases to prolong the life of the media and prevent the grit, sand etc. from messing up the media.  An hour of two (if media is alittle well used) is all I like to do. Shooting is the goal not making pretty boolits. The wet method may be alittle safer as far as the lead hazard.  Dust from tumbling is definitley something to consider and a wet wipe down of the area to remove dust is something I have been doing since my lead count is high. Wear nitrile or latex  gloves when handling this media and cases and also add a few small squares of cut up dryer sheets to keep the dust to a min.afish4570;}

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jaguarxk120 posted this 24 October 2012

I just started with the SS media, works great. Cases come out looking like new, punch out the spent primer and tumble. A shot of laundry detergent and about one 45ACP case of Lem-Shine. Cases look like new and the primer pockets are clean. The minus side is that it is a wet process and the cases need rinsing. Occasionaly there will be two pins stuck in a flash hole, but then corncob meadia does the same thing.

Right now I keep looking for cases to clean, want to keep the tumbler going. The SS pins can be ordered from Buffalo Arms, they are cheaper.

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onondaga posted this 24 October 2012

http://www.castbulletassoc.org/view_user.php?id=1166>afish4570: I have beat the dirty toxic dust problem from walnut tumbling. I lightly spray a couple of laundry dryer sheets with silicone spray and then cut the sheets to 2 inch squares. Toss them in with the brass. They do a terrific job as a dust magnet and the silicone also makes your brass shinier and the dust won't stick to your brass.

I pick them out with a long tweezers and toss them after polishing a batch and use new ones every batch....no more dust at all if you keep up with it and it keeps your walnut media better than  new clean.

I also stir in one teaspoon of Turtle Wax Chrome Polish and Rust Remover to the walnut media every 8-10 batches and run the machine 30 minutes to distribute the polish before adding brass and silicon-ed drier sheet squares. My brass comes out picture book jewelry shiny in 4 hours.

The RCBS Vibratory Case Cleaner is the model I use and have been very satisfied with. I particularly like the dual tops, one is a sieve top I use over a bucket with the machine running and held upside down to separate the media from the brass. This works great in no time.

Gary

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Chargar posted this 24 October 2012

There was a time when we reloaded without shining our cases. They were wiped with rubbing alcohol on a cloth to clean then, then loaded and fired again. The more discolored your cases, the more experienced you were.

The only benefit I can see to tumbling or whatever is the cases are easier to find on the ground.

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afish4570 posted this 25 October 2012

Chargar wrote: There was a time when we reloaded without shining our cases. They were wiped with rubbing alcohol on a cloth to clean then, then loaded and fired again. The more discolored your cases, the more experienced you were.

The only benefit I can see to tumbling or whatever is the cases are easier to find on the ground. When I started reloading in the late 60's it was rifle cartridges only.  Two bxes. of 20 rds. for wood chucks or deer hunting.  Shooting in a bolt gun in a grassy area just picking brass up and wiping off was adequate.  As time went on and bulleye and action pistol came into play things changed.  Picking up all the brass I could scrounge made washing brass and polishing due to the sandy, dirt ranges making it necessary.  Available equipment such as the large Dillon Vibrating Case cleaner  made this chore easier and quicker.  Clean brass is my goal not show quality like new brass some shooters seem to like to reload.afish4570:fire:fire

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Black and Blue posted this 25 October 2012

Tumbler dust something that I used to fight, but now I use a variation of Gary's above method that I stumbled upon entirely by accident. One day a used cleaning patch somehow found it's way into my tumbler. It was not discovered until I was seperating the media and brass. Talk about a dark and dust impregnated piece of cloth. Curiosity got the best of me, so the next time around I saved my soiled patches and tossed them in with the brass. I soon noticed the dust was greatly reduced and with regular use, all but eliminated. Now rather than tossing most of my used patches in the rubish bin, they go into the tumbler and get tossed the brass is done as Gary discribes. The first 2-3 patches from a barrel do not get recycled, they are dirty enough as it is, but those that follow work just fine. Pre-cut and ready to go.
Michael

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Bisley posted this 28 November 2012

Back when I started reloading with my Father, we just wiped off the cases and went to work. We had steel dies and grit would scratch the cases. I used an RCBS tumbler (my older brother has it now)first with liquid cleaner, resize and knock the primers out and maybe flare the case mouths, then the tumbler drum would be dry and I could use dry media. We got plain old walnut or corncob media from a paint store, which was small enough to flow through the primer flash hole, and added a little turpentine and jewelers rouge. The late George Nonte recommended cleaning with plain old laundry detergent and boiling water. I have a dedicated colander to strain out the cases -- it'll never see the inside of the kitchen again -- to rinse them. They'll wipe easily with a cloth. The idea is to enhance safety and ease of loading. As for tumbler dust, I simply separated the dust using the RCBS strainer lid on the drum over an old coffee can outside the house. I don't remember how many times we used the same media. Hope this helps.

Bisley

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LWesthoff posted this 28 November 2012

I used to use a simpler version of Onandaga's method with a drum type tumbler; I just used inch wide strips of paper towel to collect the dust from the tumbler media. I would decap and necksize AFTER case cleaning to avoid the problem of media-clogged flash holes. It worked real well - 'til one day I discovered a chunk of paper towel in a primed and charged case during the reloading process. It had somehow made it through the decapping/resizing operation, and was sitting there separating the powder charge from the primer.

I've since gone to a different cleaning system (vibrating tumbler) and don't use any paper towel, etc. additives to my media.

Strips or squares of paper or ? work well, but you need to inspect the inside of EVERY case, very carefully, after cleaning if you use that method.

Wes

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rbdave posted this 04 February 2014

Loaded old brass for years without cleaning except visual inspection. Then got FA vibratory tumbler. It died after several years and got replaced with lyman turbo tumbler. That worked much better BUT watched you tube videos and created my own with 30lb Freon jug, a couple bearings,2 pulleys and shafts and used a/c condenser motor along with some treated deck boards. works better than anything except buying new brass. SS pins and lemishine with a squirt of dawn liquid make me want to clean my already dry tumbled brass again because it looks absolutely like new brass!!Rinsed in my FA media separator in stationary tub with faucet running and have no pins in flash holes even with 308 rifle brass. No turning back now.

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hunterspistol posted this 04 February 2014

I just recently bought a Lyman Ultrasonic cleaner. Aside from drying time on the cases, I think I like it. It's pretty quick, 8 minutes per cycle and heats the water at the same time. I think a drying sieve and industrial fan would make it really easy to process brass. The ultrasonic is cleaner than I thought it would be and makes very little noise.

Having not used anything else, I can't really give you a good comparison.  

 Good Luck,
      Ron

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skeet1 posted this 04 February 2014

About a year ago I switched to the stainless pin, wet system using the Thumblers Tumbler and have not looked back. The cases are clean inside and out along with the primer pockets. I guess what I like most is that the cases are as clean as new and no dust to deal with.

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corerf posted this 05 February 2014

I like Michaels used cleaning patch idea! Recycle. Difficult to get stuck in the case, wont tear apart or shred in tumbler.

Super. Im going to try it.

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Iowa Fox posted this 09 March 2014

For the most part I have quit media polishing. I deprime and wash in HOT water and Lemi shine. Give them two clean water rinses and set out to dry for a day or two. I just got tired of fighting the vibrator noise and media crumbs stuck where you don't want them.

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475Linebauh posted this 10 March 2014

Thumblers and stainless! You will never be un-happy! The pins will never wear out and dishsoap/ limishine is cheap. I do recommend getting a universal decapping die to deprime the dirty brass to save wear on you dies. For me I am not looking for new looking brass so a few hrs is pleanty of time to clean it. On the health side you no longer have lead from the primers in dust form to be a hazard.

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olesmokey posted this 04 June 2015

I started cleaning primer pockets to curb ignition problems but it is not a pleasant task. I notice the primers seat with less force from my hand primer and seat fully without excess force. I think either of those wet cleaners would be worth it to me if it means not cleaning primer pockets individually.

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olesmokey posted this 04 June 2015

Harbor Freight sells a rotary tumbler. Is that useable as your wet tumbler?

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onondaga posted this 04 June 2015

http://castbulletassoc.org/view_user.php?id=7625>olesmokey

The Harbor Freight rotary tumbler is a small wet one really for tumbling rocks. Sure it will work just fine with steel pins, water, etc. But do study the dimensions of the Harbor Freight tumbler, is is described as a double tumbler but it is very small and would only handle maybe 100 or so 30-06 cases.

Wet rotary tumblers are not hard to build either, if you are handy.

Gary

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gpidaho posted this 05 June 2015

In my opinion, vibrating cleaners are sort of a bad joke. Corn cob or walnut medias take for ever to clean cases and then there is the toxic dust. (I still own one) I use a Lyman sonic cleaner and if the cases are badly tarnished I rinse them in boiling water and citric acid. Cases might not be jewelry shiny but they are CLEAN! GP

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Bob 11B50 posted this 07 June 2015

I use a Thumlers Tumbler with and stainless steel pins.  Deprime the cases, put them in the tumbler, add !/2 a tumbler full of water, few drops of Dawn dish soap.  Tumble till you're happy with the brass, rinse then dry off.  I does a great job. Bob 11B50 

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noylj posted this 26 June 2015

If you must wet clean your cases, the cheapest way is stainless pins--but you have to have a wet tumbler like the Thumler's Tumbler Mod. B. Ultrasonic is faster, but costs more and doesn't shine as well. Ultrasonic takes 10-20 minutes for complete clean and my use of stainless pins takes 6-8 hours. I am just as happy with 30 minutes in 20/40 corn; but being a hobbyist, I like to play and try different things. Just remember, the loaded rounds aren't going to shoot any better if the cases are shiny.

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