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Case cleaning - which is quietest and most compact system?

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BE Mike
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Case cleaning - which is quietest and most compact system? Empty Case cleaning - which is quietest and most compact system?

Post by RoyDean Sun Sep 05, 2021 3:50 pm

I currently use a Frankford Arsenal vibratory cleaner with crushed walnut shells and auto polish. It works fine. 400 45ACP shells per batch, spin out the media with an RCBS separator.

BUT

I am about to change my lifestyle and spend a lot of time travelling in an RV. I have the space to carry my current system, but would very much prefer to have something much smaller and MUCH quieter to use from time to time whilst parked up. Even if that means processing smaller batches of shells.

Any suggestions?

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Post by james r chapman Sun Sep 05, 2021 3:55 pm

well, the walnut shells and auto polish and the vibrating cleaner are probably much quieter than my pins and tumbler.
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Post by chiz1180 Sun Sep 05, 2021 3:59 pm

Ultrasonic or wet pin tumbler. Ultrasonic eliminates the media separator, but you need to use a chemical cleaner (buy or science something out). Wet pin you still need a separator but only need a liquid soap (possibly some citric acid to taste) for a chemical. Biggest downside to both is you need to dry. 

For what it is worth, I have used all the methods and more recently have been using the ultrasonic as I don't have to remove the pins.
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Post by faraim Sun Sep 05, 2021 5:57 pm

I use pins and wet tumbling, but to be honest, I really don't believe it makes much difference. Back in the 80's-90's when I competed in High Power I ran into a nationally ranked shooter who gave his cases a swipe with steel wool to remove the dirt and reloaded them. No cleaning or uniforming primer pockets, no weighing bullets or powder charges either. It worked for him.


Last edited by faraim on Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Jack H Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:28 pm

I would think equipment size, storage space, work space, waste water disposal vs lead dust, all are factors.  My choice would either a small wet tumbler or ultrasonic.  Plus a sink size strainer, and a cookie sheet and towel.
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Post by rkittine Mon Sep 06, 2021 6:07 am

I too would use a small ultrasonic for a compact set up. May not make them the shinnyist , but they will be clean.


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Post by TonyH Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:15 am

Roy, I have covered RV parking with hookups for you when you nomad to UT!! Heck, it even comes with brass cleaning privileges.
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Post by messenger Mon Sep 06, 2021 8:02 am

I started out with corn cob media with a vibrating unit. I was never really satisfied but thought it was the only way. A friend got an expensive wet tumbler with stainless pins and the results were impressive. When I saw the Frankfurt Arsenal setup I went with it. I am fortunate that my reloading room is across the hall from the laundry room and both share a common wall with the garage. My point is if you wet tumble you need a sink (laundry room). Your wife would not be happy if she saw that nasty water going down her kitchen sink. I have my tumbling system on a bench in the garage because it is really noisy. All parts of of my procedure are a few steps away. I have no intention of changing. That being said if I had come across the Lymann media (dark red) I never would have gone to wet tumbling. One of my buddies uses it and his results are as good as mine. That stuff is really impressive.

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Post by RoyDean Mon Sep 06, 2021 8:42 am

Thanks TonyH - you are on my list.

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Post by Bullseye_Ned Tue Sep 07, 2021 8:52 pm

+1 on ultrasonic. Super easy. And if you want them shiny, there are things you can add to the soup mix. Google it. But personally I could care less if my brass is shiny, its not a beauty competition. I just need them clean of old gook and shooting well.

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Post by BE Mike Wed Sep 08, 2021 8:06 am

I just emptied a load of clothes out of the dryer. There was a 9mm case in with the clothes. It was awfully clean and dry!
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Post by RoyDean Wed Sep 08, 2021 8:16 am

Well, that's worth a try! I shall look for a couple of those perforated cloth zip bags some folks use for their "smalls". Maybe put 100 45ACP cases in one together with a load of dark clothes and try it!

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Post by SingleActionAndrew Wed Sep 08, 2021 8:33 am

I have the Hornady 2L ultrasonic cleaner. It's certainly compact. It can do up to 250 45acp. I use the heat function and it does a fine job. The noise it produces is similar to if you plugged 20 of those noise emitting mice deterrent devices together. It is not load the same way a vibratory unit is loud, but the pitch may be annoying to people around. If camping maybe people would think you just had a mosquito zapper plugged in. I clean the cases with a food dehydrator which is considerably larger than the ultrasonic unit itself, but on the road if it's a dry day you could dry them in the sun and save the space. FWIW I decap before ultrasonic - might be moisture issues with incomplete drying otherwise.
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Post by Schaumannk Wed Sep 08, 2021 7:25 pm

BE Mike wrote:I just emptied a load of clothes out of the dryer. There was a 9mm case in with the clothes. It was awfully clean and dry!
Kind of begs the question of why we aren’t using Tide he  in our wet tumblers.    Going to try it next time.

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Post by RodJ Thu Sep 09, 2021 4:31 am

RoyDean wrote:Well, that's worth a try! I shall look for a couple of those perforated cloth zip bags some folks use for their "smalls". Maybe put 100 45ACP cases in one together with a load of dark clothes and try it!
This is very intriguing.  And if you are RV-ing, doing your clothes at the community laundry along with brass tossed in could be a time saver.

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Post by SingleActionAndrew Thu Sep 09, 2021 5:10 am

RodJ wrote:
RoyDean wrote:Well, that's worth a try! I shall look for a couple of those perforated cloth zip bags some folks use for their "smalls". Maybe put 100 45ACP cases in one together with a load of dark clothes and try it!
This is very intriguing.  And if you are RV-ing, doing your clothes at the community laundry along with brass tossed in could be a time saver.

Spent cases have some degree of lead contamination on them from the primer and potentially bullet etc. The person using the community wash after you might be washing baby clothes. While we can argue about what residue may remain, I'd take a hard look before taking this further than a joke.
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Post by SmokinNJokin Thu Sep 09, 2021 5:11 am

I swear by wet pin tumbling, here’s why.
1) media never wears out. 
2) no nasty chemicals or dust. buy only dish soap and citric acid. kid and pet safe
3) spotlessly clean + peen brass, very fast.
4) easy dry, put brass in oven on warm setting on a cookie sheet.

For the noise, put the tumbler under a rubbermaid tub with a towel over it.

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Post by RodJ Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:27 am

SingleActionAndrew wrote:
RodJ wrote:
RoyDean wrote:Well, that's worth a try! I shall look for a couple of those perforated cloth zip bags some folks use for their "smalls". Maybe put 100 45ACP cases in one together with a load of dark clothes and try it!
This is very intriguing.  And if you are RV-ing, doing your clothes at the community laundry along with brass tossed in could be a time saver.

Spent cases have some degree of lead contamination on them from the primer and potentially bullet etc. The person using the community wash after you might be washing baby clothes. While we can argue about what residue may remain, I'd take a hard look before taking this further than a joke.

Indeed. The world is full of ignorant, thoughtless, or both, people.  And you’re correct, the amount of residue remaining is debatable.  But, to your point, folks shouldn’t pour ultrasonic cleaner fluid down the drain.  Especially if draining to septic systems, no?

To the OP’s original question, I’m wondering whether there is any really good, safe way to clean brass in an RV environment. Small relatively confined space / indoor air quality. Noise and dust outside, children playing.  Limited disposal options, even counting “the kitchen sink”.

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Post by Schaumannk Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:41 am

The real danger of lead is inhaling it and swallowing it.  I consider washing it down the drain, to be one of the least bad options.  
I would worry about using some of the chemical ultrasonic cleaners in a closed environment like an RV.  

There is no perfect solution here.  I decided long ago that cleaning brass on the road was too much of a hassle.  Better to possibly sort and deprime sitting in your camp chair under the awning.  Safe the cleaning for large batch processing in the winter at home.

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