Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

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Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Rob Kovach on Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:14 pm

After the previous topic about wet tumbling, I wanted to figure out how little a reloader could get away with to get brass clean enough that it wouldn't make a mess of your reloader.

I took a gallon zip lock back and filled it half way with brass and hot water. I added a squirt of dish soap and kneaded the bag for a couple minutes.

The brass came out pretty good!  I didn't waste any time depriming and laid the brass out on a towel to dry in the sun.

I was reloading the batch in less than an hour.


Last edited by Rob Kovach on Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by dronning on Sat Sep 19, 2015 12:32 pm

I did something similar a couple of years ago. I took a small one gallon cooler with a screw on top filled it water, soap and a pinch of lemishine and about 200 deprimed cases. Then I tossed it into our front load washer with a load of towels to soften the ride, set it to pause before the spin cycle. The cases came out great, wife wasn't too happy so that was the end of that little experiment.

A buddy did me one better and stuffed about 500 deprimed 45 cases into a mesh laundry bag and tossed it in all by itself. They also turned out great but it was a little expensive - his wife made him get her a new washer. All was not lost because he still uses the old washer for cleaning brass.

- Dave

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Dr.Don on Sat Sep 19, 2015 4:44 pm

Rob,
I shot 45 and reloaded it for several years before I ever cleaned any brass at all.  Ugly stuff but it worked fine with a carbide die.  I'm not suggesting that.  But I find the lengths some folks go to for pretty brass to be way beyond what I'm willing to do.  Vibrating tumbler and walnut hulls is fine for me for the foreseeable future.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by james r chapman on Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:12 pm

Harbor Freight vibrating tumbler and walnut and a little polish is cheap enough for me...

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by jmdavis on Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:50 pm

For years I cleaned with a neck  brush and a dish pan of warm soapy water.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Rob Kovach on Sat Sep 19, 2015 8:56 pm

I want my brass clean so the dirt from the cases doesn't foul my reloader. I find that dry tumbling leaves a lot of debris in the primer pocket and that is hell on both my Lee press, and my Dillon's primer feeder.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Jwhelan939 on Sat Sep 19, 2015 9:15 pm

I onky use like headstamps, that have been used the same number of time. I begin by depriming with a universal, sonic clean, clean primer pockets, rinse, dry, then start to load. I've been told most of my time is wasted on "unnecessary" tasks; however, it puts my mind 100% at ease when I am at the line. To me, the time is well spent.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by john bickar on Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:26 pm

An 8-year-old and an old toothbrush?

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by jmdavis on Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:35 pm

But who cleaned your brass, John?

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by noylj on Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:43 am

>how little a reloader could get away with to get brass clean enough that it wouldn't make a mess of your reloader.


I'm sure this isn't the point, but the minimum would be a rag or paper towel to wipe off the case exterior. That is the sum total of what is needed to prevent damage to die and case and produce very accurate ammunition.
There wasn't a reloading manual that I have read that ever pushed for more until they started to make money off of accessories to clean cases.
So, for any reloading, the minimum equipment is what it takes to get the cases as clean as they feel like having the cases.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Jerry Keefer on Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:32 am

Clean brass feeds better, and easily grabs the chamber walls during ignition/gas expansion.  I don't want dirty, grubby brass scuffing / abrading a micro polished chamber..

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by james r chapman on Sun Sep 20, 2015 10:01 am

Why would you strive for perfection with less than good lookin' reloads...

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by s1120 on Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:52 am

I don't remember my dad ever doing any major brass cleaning all his years shooting back in the day...  I know for a fact that he did not have any kind of tumbler. He was a master level shooter, so it worked for him.. I use a cheap HF rock tumbler with water, a few drops of dish soap, and a cap of lemon juice...  looks pretty darn clean!!! Tumbler was cheap...  under 50 bucks, and a dollar store colander to drain, lay out to dry...

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Virgil Kane on Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:37 pm

Rob Kovach wrote:After the previous topic about wet tumbling, I wanted to figure out how little a reloader could get away with to get brass clean enough that it wouldn't make a mess of your reloader.

I took a gallon zip lock back and filled it half way with brass and hot water. I added a squirt of dish soap and kneaded the bag for a couple minutes.

The brass came out pretty good!  I didn't waste any time depriming and laid the brass out on a towel to dry in the sun.

I was reloading the batch in less than an hour.


Hi Rob,

Try putting in some citric acid. Lemon juice works (Real Lemon Lemon Juice) and let it sit for a while. Doesn't need tumbling to make brass shine like new.


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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Bigtrout on Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:33 am

Does citric acid do a better job than white vinegar?   I still have to scrub the inside of the case head with a cotton q-tip to remove powder residue after 20 minutes of ultrasonic in 1 1/2 cup of distilled water, 1/2 cup vinegar and a spot of Dawn all preheated to the boiling point.  I only do 100-120 9mm cases in a batch limited by the size of the u/s tank.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Virgil Kane on Sun Sep 27, 2015 10:33 am

Bigtrout wrote:Does citric acid do a better job than white vinegar?   I still have to scrub the inside of the case head with a cotton q-tip to remove powder residue after 20 minutes of ultrasonic in 1 1/2 cup of distilled water, 1/2 cup vinegar and a spot of Dawn all preheated to the boiling point.  I only do 100-120 9mm cases in a batch limited by the size of the u/s tank.


I couldn't tell you, I have never tried vinegar but I can say that the SS pins scrub the deposits out. The citric acid will only remove the tarnish on the brass, I don't think it would touch the carbon deposits.

In my profession I have been using ultrasonic cleaners for the last 45 years. Unless you are using a solution that will dissolve whatever deposits are on what you are trying to clean the ultrasonic just doesn't get the job done. As an example take a magic marker and mark your brass with it. Now put it in the ultrasonic in water and turn it on. Time how long if at all for the water and ultrasonic to clean off the magic marker. Now put the marked brass in some alcohol and put it in the ultrasonic, it will be clean in less that 30 seconds. The manufacturers of ultrasonics like to say that it creates "scrubbing bubbles" and that's what cleans whatever is in the unit. The "scrubbing bubbles" only work if the solution you use will loosen and attack that ever you are trying to remove.


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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:51 pm

I wet tumbled a batch of 1000 in just soap and water for one hour, and I think that's all I'm going to do anymore.  The outsides look great.  The insides look about as good as dry tumbling.

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Re: Minimum brass cleaning "equipment"

Post by desben on Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:28 am

As an added benefit, I believe wet tumbling greatly reduces your exposition to lead. It just stays suspended in the dirty water that you dump out. Those dry tumblers generate a lot of lead dust. In a test, this was where the greatest concentration of lead was found in a reloader's home.

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