Cleaning case lube off cases--No Hassle!!


Smokey Joe
January 8, 2006, 05:23 PM
In a thread about this, earlier, someone stated that case lube would gunk up the polishing medium in a tumbler, and therefore that lubed and resized cases should not be cleaned that way. The medium was claimed to ball up and stick together.

Scientist that I am, I just had to try it to see how bad it was. I started by tumbling the cases in ground corncob to clean them up after firing, as is my standard practice. Then lubed these clean cases with RCBS Case Lube-2 and deprimed & FL sized them. Then the experiment began.

Surprise! :D When I put about 180 cases of resized 7.62x39, all with case lube on them, into the tumbler after FL sizing them, turned the tumbler on, and left it for an hour or more, the cases came out smooth, not lubed at all, and as far as I could determine, ready to prime, load, and fire. The cleaning/polishing medium used was ground corncob, a batch which I have been using for a couple years with good satisfaction for case cleaning/polishing. I had thrown in perhaps a dozen 1x1" gun cleaning patches along with the corncob, as I had heard somewhere that these absorb the dirt and gunk from the cases and the medium stays cleaner. These patches have gone from white to quite gray over the time they have been in with the medium. The medium has seemed to stay clean and effective.

Conclusions: In this instance, at least, RCBS case sizing lube did not seem to have any bad effect on the cleaning/polishging medium at all. The cases were effectively cleaned of lube in about an hour of tumbling. After the lube was removed from the cases by tumbling them, the ground corncob medium appeared to be in the same condition as before: Loose, flakey, seemingly clean, and ready for the next session. The use of a dozen or so cotton cloth gun cleaning patches in with the tumbling medium may have contributed to maintaining the tumbling medium in usable condtion.

So there you are, FWIW. As a scientist, I have to hope someone else will independently try the same experiment, and duplicate my results.

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Ol` Joe
January 8, 2006, 06:11 PM
I run all my cases in my tumbler to remove the lube after sizeing. It only takes about 10-15 minutes max IMO to do it and I have found I can clean up at least 1500 rifle cases before the media (corn cob) appears to start getting loaded. The media continues to remove lube for quite awhile after this happens. I use two bowls, one with polish added for cleaning and one with straight old used corn cob. and don`t mix them. Media is cheap and when the lubed material gets too loaded up I simply replace it and switch the bowls roles..

January 8, 2006, 06:11 PM
I hadn't heard that lube will gunk up your media, but I just started loading rifle rounds and was tumbling the lube off and hadn't had any problems.

Smokey Joe
January 8, 2006, 10:55 PM
Y'know, I should have started this thread in Handloading and Reloading. I'd move it if I knew how.

Was just too darn excited @ the thought of sharing my discovery. :(

Mods? Can it be moved? Is it that big a deal?

Anyhow, sorry for the inconvenience.

January 9, 2006, 01:14 AM
After I saw a picture of either Remington or Winchester (Olin) tumbling loaded ammo.

I throw a couple used dryer clothes softener sheets into the crushed corncob as I'm tumbling my finished ammo, it serves to keep the corncob from loading down with contamination. I only tumble my FMJ handloads, otherwise the corncob would take off the moly coating or get into hollowpoints of other types of loads.

cracked butt
January 9, 2006, 09:31 AM
I just wipe the lube off with my shirt.:D

January 9, 2006, 10:38 AM
Ummm, why not use a lube that does not affect/degrade powder?

Any of the lanolin based lubes, or Hornaday One Shot case lube.

I spray on the lube, size, prime, charge, seat, crimp and then run through corn cob just to get the lube off.

Smokey Joe
January 9, 2006, 01:30 PM
Yellow Lab--(Gotta love the handle, BTW!)--Are you saying that RCBS-2 lube WILL affect/degrade powder?

I guess you are.
Just looked @ the label on the RCBS-2--They say that "Too much lube may destroy powder and primers. Wipe cases clean after sizing." Hmmmm. Been using it for years, never had a FTF or any lube-related problem yet.

Inside case necks I only use "a suspicion" of lube (Col. Townsend Whelen's term). Will have to consider switching case lubes. I don't want a suspicion of trouble. It pays to read the label.

Anyhow, thx, Yellow Lab, for the suggestion.

Anyone else ever had a case-lube related FTF or problem?

January 9, 2006, 06:35 PM
i tumble after the sizing process to get the lube off now. i tumble for awhile though (couple hours, unless i'm in a hurry for the cases) to make sure the stuff gets out of the necks.

i've never had a problem w/ rcbs lube causing difficulty w/ powder, and i used to not tumble cases after sizing. meaning that i'd dump the powder down and it would get all clogged up in the neck (sticking to the lube). then i'd seat a bullet, and take it out to shoot and enjoy. i do things differently now, but, i just don't think rcbs case lube does much to powder.

January 11, 2006, 12:00 PM
I don't know how you could trace a FTF to case lube or not... I don't play with loaded ammo after its FTF.. it gets thrown away.

I simply wanted to remove a step in the process (not needing to lube, size/deprime, clean, run through the press) so I picked a lube that would not affect the powders.

For a rifle case I don't see how lube would affect it.. there is a LOT of powder and the primer is a LONG way down the case.

A pistol case, OK, not a lot of prowder (5 gr in my .45) and the primer is relatively close to the rim... so it would take proportionally less lube to affect its operation.

But mainly it was to skip a few steps.

Smokey Joe
January 11, 2006, 03:57 PM
Yellow Lab--I KNOW I've never had a lube-related FTF in a reload I've done...because I've never had any FTF in a reload I've done. Not one. For any reason. You're right, of course, that figuring out to blame the case lube for a FTF would be difficult.

Agree w/you that the neck is a long way from the primer in a rifle case. And in pistol cases, I use carbide dies and don't lube, so in that case (pun intended) it is a non-issue.

You're putting just as much effort doing it your way; the only difference is that you clean the finished rounds of outside lube, in the tumbler, and I clean the sized cases inside and outside before loading.

BTW, somebody is going to bring up the issue of tumbling medium getting stuck in the flash hole of a sized case, and interfering with powder ignition. I checked this the last lot of 180 cases I did (the subject of Post #1 in this thread): Exactly ONE case had exactly ONE piece of corncob in the flash hole; with one tap on the bench the bit of corncob came out. Seems that the corncob I'm using is enough smaller than a standard flash hole that it doesn't get stuck in there. The one piece that did get stuck was so loose that had I loaded up the case with it in there, and had the corncob bit stayed stuck until the case was fired, the primer would have blown it out and never noticed the difference, and the corncob bit would have burned up with the powder. The tiny mass of the corncob bit couldn't have affected the internal ballistics, nor the external ballistics either, enough to notice. When I tumble future lots of sized cases, however, I will check flash holes.

Cracked Butt--I've cleaned sized cases that way, too (in my pre-tumbler days.) SWMBO did NOT approve.

Dakotasin--Before I had a tumbler I too did not clean the inside of cases after lubing/resizing. (Frankly I never gave it a thought.) Just loaded 'em up after wiping off the outside of the case. Usually used rubbing alcohol as a solvent, not water, just so's it'd evaporate more quickly and dependably. Never had a problem with the lube affecting the powder, AFAIK. But BOY, a tumbler is a whole lot less hassle! :)

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