Questions about tumbling cases

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Questions about tumbling cases

Post by paulmcallister on 7/12/2015, 5:03 pm

Hello, 

I have a couple of questions about tumbling cases.  There is tumbling media specifically for the task but I was wondering if I could use some thing readily available such as oat meal or sunflower seeds.

I have a 10" lathe and I was thinking of putting the container of cases and media in the chuck. How long and a what speed should I run it?

Thanks, Paul

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by james r chapman on 7/12/2015, 5:19 pm

well, I'd first suggest, no! but, otherwise about 40 rpm for an hour with no feed....

I'd suggest crushed walnuts...
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Russ OR on 7/12/2015, 7:22 pm

For media try Industrial supply co.s or sandblasting media distributors. 2 years ago I got a 50lb bag of medium crushed Walnut shells for $14(?) at LaGrande Industrial supply in Portland, OR. Years ago it was $11/bag.

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Fire Escape on 7/12/2015, 7:25 pm

The two 'standard' tumbling medias are ground walnut shell and ground corn cob. Both work much better and faster with some polishing additive. I would suggest getting the additive from a gun shop as some (and I don't know which ones) 'normal' polishes contain chemicals that will make the brass shine but may weaken it at the same time. I have heard that crushed walnut shells are available pretty reasonably at pet supply stores as 'Lizard Bedding' but I haven't gone to verify that yet. I tried 'Black Beauty' sand blasting media many decades ago, it certainly cleaned but was far too aggressive and not surprisingly the brass looked like it had been sand blasted. That was my one venture into using hard media on brass.

Bruce

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by igolfat8 on 7/12/2015, 8:08 pm

I recently built a wet tumbler and it works fantastic. I've been dry tumbling for 20+ years and I have to say I like the results of wet much better.

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by C.Perkins on 7/13/2015, 4:43 pm

As suggested, go to your local pet supply store.
I use corn cob media, but both corn and walnut are available.
Large bag and cheap.
Corn cob takes a little longer but I run my vibratory tumbler for about 4 hours per load while I am doing something else.

Clarence
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by TexasShooter on 7/13/2015, 6:08 pm

Yep, pet store stuff works fine. When I started reloading I used the higher priced stuff marketed specifically for reloading. Now I use either Zilla crushed walnut shells (pet store sells it to line reptile cages), or Hartz corn cob (pet store sells it line bird cages). I can't tell any difference except the pet store stuff is a LOT cheaper.

How long and what speed is hard to say. I use a vibratory tumbler and it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to most of the day...just depends on how dirty the cases and how dirty the media is from previous uses. Kind of like some recipes - you just keep cooking until it's done.

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Jerry Keefer on 7/13/2015, 9:20 pm

Corn cob and a table spoon of Brasso. I also place two dryer/softener sheets in the mix. Cuts down dust. I clean /wash out bowl after each batch. I run it for about 8 / 10 hours. It's impossible to remove every particle of the media. Corn cob will not effect the loader. Walnut pieces can bind up the loading mechanism.
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Wobbley on 7/13/2015, 11:02 pm

Ummm. Brasso has ammonia and that can attack brass.  Either use media with non-ammoniated polishes or wet tumble with a citric acid mixture like Lemi Shine.  If you wet tumble you MUST deprime first.

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by jglenn21 on 7/14/2015, 8:40 am

I use Nu-finish in my tumbler... just a cap full in  most tumblers or two in my large Dillon..


quit using Brasso many years ago.

while the wet tumbling with SS pins works great if you like really shiny brass.. the older method works fine for me.. load it up, turn it on, and go off doing other things...
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Rob Kovach on 7/14/2015, 10:04 am

Wet tumbling in water and Stainless Steel Pins is WAY better than vibratory cleaning!  It's fast, and there is no dust.  The inside and out of the brass is shiny and it makes it way easier to see your charge when you set the bullet on top.
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Mac2 on 7/14/2015, 11:05 am

One may also get the inside clean with ultrasonic action.  I use an iSonic P4810 Commercial Ultrasonic Cleaner, 2L size.

Here are some words about what I use:
Works to clean primer pockets of, and insides of, brass using 1200 mL of water, 300 mL of clear vinegar, and dollop of non-smelly liquid soap. Great to start with the de-bubble cycle and start of heating. Even better is the ability to set a 30 minute cycle rather than the much shorter periods of other devices. Recess on the top back makes emptying the fluid simple + lower recesses that provide a place to put one's hands while pouring out the fluid. Box that it came with provides a great way to store between uses. . . . and it costs less than the more advertised devices of the same size. Reasonably quiet. Excellent device.
Need to "wash" brass with water after about an hour in device and then dry.  Mac2

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Jerry Keefer on 7/14/2015, 11:43 am

Wobbley wrote:Ummm. Brasso has ammonia and that can attack brass.  Either use media with non-ammoniated polishes or wet tumble with a citric acid mixture like Lemi Shine.  If you wet tumble you MUST deprime first.
I knew this would draw some fire when I posted it..
I am no chemist, but I have been using Brasso since 1961. I seldom have a split case.. which is attributable to old age and usage..99% of all my split cases, which is still very few, out of tens of thousands of cleaned cases per year, are nickel plated. Again, not a chemist, but I believe the plating embrittles the case.
I recently tried a complimentary sample of "Green Friendly" brass cleaner from a major reloading company... Getting the hard, thick coating of crud out of the vibrator bowl was a nightmare..
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Wobbley on 7/14/2015, 7:26 pm

Wasn't meant as fire, friendly or not.  And certainly Brasso can be used.  But ammonia has attached brass at the grain boundary which was the cause of the "season cracking" in pre-WW2 rifle ammo.  With all the other polishers out there why take the risk?

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by rich.tullo on 7/16/2015, 11:20 am

I use a tablespoon of mineral spirits ever once in a while seems to work as well as Brasso or Polish and is less likely to gum up the media. 

Pet and Feed stores are your friend, corn cob is available as hamster betting just look at the labels. 

Walnuts is lizard bedding and is finer than the gun walnuts at 1/2 the cost. 

Also Rice works good but the brass need to be primed and you have to take care that no rice, like any media, is in the case when reloading.
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by DavidR on 7/16/2015, 11:54 am

Watch using corncob from pet stores, much of it is way bigger than what is sold for reloading and I have had it get stuck in a case and stop my press, after this a few times it went in the pets cage and I went to stuff sold for reloading, I add some jeweler rouge impregnated corn cob sold on ebay and lyman green treated corncob, add some liquid car wax to make it run thru the press like butter and a old dryer sheet to suck up dust and residue then run for a few hours in my big Dillon and my brass looks new inside and out and loads easy.
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by LenV on 7/16/2015, 5:39 pm

I use a Hornady Ultrsonic cleaner and walnut shell in the tumbler. I just plop the brass still primed in the ultra sonic and run it thru 2 thirty minute cycles (with 30 min cool down between cycle). I then give the brass a couple of shakes to get the main part of the water out of the shells. I don't worry about getting them very dry. Then I pour the brass into the tumbler and tumble for 2 hrs or until squeaky clean and dry. The water and cleaning solution residue keeps the dust down and helps polish the brass.

Len
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by Dipnet on 7/21/2015, 3:43 pm

I just started using wet media and the little metal brads and the brass comes out looking brand new! I am still stunned by how well it works, especially on primer pockets, and especially on primer pockets in little calibers like 32 ACP. Haven't used it yet on 223, but I fear not.

I'd recommend the one time expense of a wet tumbler and suggest you buy the RCBS brass spin sorter (separates brass from the metal brads with ease). Don't forget to get the little magnet tool that picks up the brads after tumbling. dipnet
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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by igolfat8 on 7/22/2015, 10:49 am

Dipnet,
I can confirm that the wet tumbling method works equally well on .223. It takes a bit longer to tumble the pins out of the tiny .223 case openings but the brass looks brand new as does the primer pockets.

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by 1joel1 on 7/24/2015, 9:24 am

Once you go wet, you'll never regret!

It is amazingly simple and the results are as others have stated.

Joel

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by dronning on 7/24/2015, 10:32 am

1joel1 wrote:Once you go wet, you'll never regret!
It is amazingly simple and the results are as others have stated.
Joel

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I have a Biggdawg Tumbler that can process 20lbs of brass at a time. It's awesome!


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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by s1120 on 8/3/2015, 12:49 pm

Ive had good luck just using water, a touch of lemon juice, a touch of dish soap, and tumble for a few hours in a old rock tumbler. Not sure if you would call them mirror shinny... but they clean up real nice, and its cheap, and easy.

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Re: Questions about tumbling cases

Post by farmboy on 8/3/2015, 9:52 pm

Almost 10 yrs ago I bought a 50Lb bag on corn cob media from Grainger and a box of crushed walnut media from Harbor Freight.  I mix them 60/40 and have cleaned 10s upon 10s of thousands of casings  every year.  I think I have over 3/4 of the media left.  There will probably be 50% of left to pass on in my will.  It goes a long way.
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