brass cleaning


July 25, 2007, 10:05 PM
what's an easy way to clean brass if you don't have a tumbler?

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July 25, 2007, 11:01 PM
Just buy one..

If you don't want to, run a search. This question only pops up once a week. :neener:

July 25, 2007, 11:08 PM
One thing I've done (rifle cases more than pistol) is to take a bolt slightly larger than the neck of the case, cut the head off, put it in a drill press and with the press running file it down so that you get a press fit of the inside of the neck to your new mandrel. Work on it until you can slip a case on and off with the press running.

Now get yourself some Semichrome (any Motorcycle shop will have it in their chrome polishing section), dab a little on a rag or paper towel, and apply to the spinning case. Remove and polish with a clean part of the towel.

Not too great if you need to do hundreds of cases, but it sure puts a nice shine on the case. However it doesn't clean the inside of the case. I always did this before depriming/sizing. If you deprime first, you've got to be sure you get all the polish out of the primer pocket/flash hole.

Smokey Joe
July 25, 2007, 11:09 PM
Grafskater--There are over 1007 mickey-mouse ways to clean brass w/o buying a tumbler. Every single one of 'em I've ever heard of either involves the use of nasty chemicals, or washing the cases then having to dry them, or a BUNCH of manual putzing around, or some combination of these.

As Stinger said, just get a vibratory tumbler and be done with it. It's only about $40 @ Harbor Freight, or any of the reloading-supply houses will have one, or they're available @ gun shows usually. Get any one you like; they all work the same. Get some lizard bedding at a pet store--fine-grind corncob, or walnut. Lizard bedding is a LOT cheaper than tumbling medium, even though it's exactly the same thing.

I used to think I was being clever in not having bought a tumbler, cleaning my brass by hand. I wasn't. I was wasting my time.

ETA--If you like really shiny, as Jvik suggests, add a capful of Nu-finish car wax to your tumbling medium. Get the Nu-finish @ yr local dollar store.

July 26, 2007, 07:29 AM
Alright, i guess i'll just buy a tumbler. But for the time being, i'm going to need to find a simple way of cleaning the brass, inside and out.

July 26, 2007, 08:02 AM
Mesh bag and the dishwasher or clothes washer. Don't let the misses catch you.

July 26, 2007, 09:26 AM
I use rice, some nu finish car polish and an old rock tumbler.
works just fine.

seriously though, if I was in a hurry I'd just buy a tumbler. MidwayUSA has them on sale this week. $50 for a kit with a seperator and a bucket, usually they're 60.

Smokey Joe
July 26, 2007, 11:50 AM
Grasskater--While waiting for yr tumbler, here's what you do w/the brass:

Inside: Forget it. There's nothing in there you need to clean. Any loose powder residue will drop out on its own, while you're handling the cases, but there won't be much there. Even tumbling medium in a tumbler won't clean up the inside of the cases much, except for cases that are "wide open" in design, like .45ACP. Even those won't shine up inside, although they clean out pretty good in the tumbler. Everything else I reload just stays gray to black inside, and never a problem.

Outside: If the cases are actually muddy, or covered with burnt residue, or such, I used to wipe 'em off with a dry cloth. Then lube 'em, size 'em, and remove the sizing lube with an alcohol-soaked cloth. Water works for most sizing lube, but the alcohol evaporates quicker, leaving the cases clean and dry. Cases that don't come clean right away (firmly stuck-on corrosion, or what-have-you) I toss into the scrap bucket.

In "common" cartridges, cases that are "problem dirty" aren't worth wasting time on. And scrap brass fetches > $1.60/lb. If you are reloading custom-made wildcat brass it would be different.

I emphasize, that this putzy hand-cleaning of cases is only for until your tumbler comes in the UPS truck.

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