Case Tumbler Advice


Mac Attack
April 12, 2008, 04:02 PM
I used to reload quite a bit back in the 90's but lost interest in it after I got married and had kids and my shooting time dropped off. With the price of ammo no a days, I decided it was a perfect time to get started again so I dusted off my old RCBS Rock Chucker with it's Piggly Bag II progressive attachement, scale and other misc. items, a box of unopened LRN bullets, bought some AA#7 and small pistol primers some cases I had stored away. The nickle cases I have been stored away for over 10 years and were pretty dirty. I never used a case tumbler before and to be honest with you I never saw the need with nickle cases but after seeing what they looked like after 10 years of storage I broke down and purchased on.

I purchased a RCBS Mega tumbler yesterday and some corncobb media. The instructions which came with the unit were more legalese than instructions and those instructions they provided were very short. The advertisement for the tumbler said it was supposed to be a quite running tumbler but If this is quite then I don't want to know what a loud unit is. I started off with enough medium to fill the tumbler half full then I added about 500 cases. I only ran it for a few minutes, enough to get the cases to mix with the medium.

Questions: How can I tell if I have enough medium in the tumbler? How long should I run the tumbler in order to clean the cases? Do I need to remove the primers?

Anyways, any advice for a first time user would be greatly appreciated.

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April 12, 2008, 04:14 PM
I don't know about the Mega model, but half full of media & 500 cases is probably why it is making so much noise.

My Dillon tumbler has to be full to within an inch or so of the top before it stops rattling cases against the drum and quiets down to a hum.

No need to de-prime.

If you got the treated media with polish already in it, it should clean cases in a couple of hours unless they are badly tarnished or corroded.

You will need to add polish to the media after it is used a few times.


April 12, 2008, 07:01 PM
+1 on what RC said, you have to fill er up to get er done!

Read the reviews on the midway site about this tumbler. You may want to return it and get the smaller one.

April 12, 2008, 07:39 PM
Yep, fill 'er up, and go for it, will be much quieter.

April 12, 2008, 11:10 PM
The short answer: Your tumbler should be mostly full of media.

The long answer: The cases you put in there are full of air. The media will replace the air in the cases. Your tumbler can start out mostly full of media, and you can fill it mostly full of brass, and it still won't overflow (although you can't add that much brass too quickly: give the media time to get into the cases).

April 12, 2008, 11:58 PM
I adhere to the following: Fill to the rim, use walnut media for cleaning and corn cob media for polishing, add a shot of mineral spirits and some flitz brass polish, run em until they look clean. Add a ripped up dryer sheet to the media to remove some of the contaminants.

April 13, 2008, 12:01 AM
"...some corncob media..." How much? The Mega tumbler supposedly holds up to 1,000 .38 cases and 6 pounds of media. You could put your kids in it and tumble them clean, but you'd get yelled at. Quite, I mean quiet, is a relative thing. Put a cardboard box over it and tumble for an hour or two.

The Bushmaster
April 13, 2008, 11:42 AM
Never much worried about the noise (I have a 20 year old Lyman Turbo 1200). I keep it in my basment shop and I'm kinda glad it does make a bit of noise to remind me that it is in operation...Can't hear it in any part of the house except the Gun/Reloading Room, just above where it's working. A good thing...

It's about 3/4 full of media...

Mac Attack
April 13, 2008, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the information. I poured the rest of the media in the container I purchased and added the rest of my brass. Now it isn't so loud unless you are within earshot of it. I don't hear it in my room which is above where the tumbler is.

After a total of 2 hours of running, I can tell that the nickle cases are now almost mirror polished. They look great so I will pull them.

Some additional questions:
Why did the media not clean the inside of the cases?

I paid $17 for a bottle of Lyman green media. I read somewhere that you could buy media from a pet store for quadruple the quantity and for a faction of the cost. Which type should I use?"

I read that people add polishing agents to their media like mineral spirits, nu-finish, fritz...etc as well as a torn up sheet of fabric softener sheets. What is the reason for both?

Smoke Rizen
April 13, 2008, 02:22 PM
I like to size and deprime on brass cases so I don't have to lube them after the tumbler, but then you have to put them in the loading tray bottom up to look for any stuck media. I keep a needle in a piece of foam to push that out.
I only use carbide dies on nickel plated stuff so the dies don't get scrached up,which defeats the tumbling. As far as noise goes, I have a Thumbler Tumbler which is a drum type. It sounds like a running roller coaster, but I reload in a building next to the house so the wife doesn't mind.

April 13, 2008, 02:26 PM
The suggested amount of media for a Case Tumbler is :
~ ~ ~ " Fill to 2/3rds full " ~ ~ ~ :)


April 13, 2008, 05:10 PM
Pet store media works great.

The Nu finish is to make the brass shiny.

The torn up drier sheet or paper towels are to collect dust.

After you tumble, you're going to separate the media from the brass, and there's going to be dust. That dust will have lead in it. That's best to do outside. You don't want that stuff in the house. Some of us just do the whole thing--tumble and separate--outside. That way the noise, dust, and lead stays out there.

April 13, 2008, 06:09 PM
I'm with Sagetown. I fill my tumbler 3/4 full of walnut from the pet store. I add a cap full of Nu Finish car polish and a paper towel cut into around 10 pieces. Turn it on and let it run for a couple of minutes and then add the brass. Run for two hours and it comes out shiny.

April 13, 2008, 06:13 PM
Why did the media not clean the inside of the cases?Cases get packed tightly full of media in a vibratory type tumbler as soon as you turn it on.

So tight, it can't vibrate around and do any polishing.

Rotary tumblers do a better job because some of the media keeps getting dumped out as they tumble around inside the drum.


evan price
April 13, 2008, 07:23 PM
Why did the media not clean inside the cases?

Because the media needs to move to scrub the brass, inside the case, the media bunches up and does not move as much. Tumble longer, it will clean better.


You can buy Zilla crushed walnut shells at PetSmart for $10.99 for an 11-pound bag, or $20 for a 25-pound bag. The walnut is used as bedding in bird cages or lizard cages. Most pet shops have this. Price is very cheap, and it's the same stuff you pay RCBS or somebody a bunch of money for.


FLITZ contains ammonia, it polishes but can chemically harm the brass cases. I'd not use it.

A little NU-FINISH car polish will help disperse dust and put a shine on your cases. A capful or two for each five pounds of media. NuFinish contains a silcicon polymer instead of an oil or wax so it has no possibility of damaging your powder.

USED DRYER SHEETS, folded over and torn into qaurter-sized chunks, will trap dust and dirt scrubbed off of the brass, you throw them out after each session, it keeps your media cleaner and it lasts longer.

April 13, 2008, 07:52 PM
saw this somewhere, cut the dryer sheets into quarters, put two over the center threaded screw that holds the lid on, the media flows towards the center and gives the dryer sheets the best chance to clean. works great.

April 13, 2008, 08:05 PM
seeing that the local reloading dealers are proud of thier meager stock and charge accordingly. i am one always looking to save a buck.. in the past i have used the walnut blasting grit found at Harbor freight, which is pretty dusty. So this zilla...petsmart thing was of interest... the stuff works great... my choice of additive is MOTHERS polishing paste desolved in denatured alcohol about 1/2 teaspoon in a couple 0z alcohol add to the walnut grit, vib rate and let the alcohol evaporate and then use as normal


April 13, 2008, 11:15 PM
Why did the media not clean inside the cases?

The media cleans the case because the case moves through the media which essentially abrades the case surface and so removes the powder residue, dirt, tarnish, etc.. There is very little movement between the media and the inside of the case, thus very little cleaning.

April 13, 2008, 11:52 PM
FLITZ contains ammonia, it polishes but can chemically harm the brass cases. I'd not use it.

NO IT DOES NOT! It says; "contains no ammonia or abrasives right on the label" You're probably thinking of brasso, it DOES have ammonia in it, which leaches copper out of the brass making it brittle.

I've been using flitz for 3-4 years. But it's expensive, compared to midway/frankfort arsenal brass polish, which does just as good a job.

Don't worry about the INSIDE of the cases. Smokeless powder leaves very little fouling there, it bothers nothing to leave it there.

April 14, 2008, 11:24 AM
Just a note on difference of Pet Shop Walnut bedding, and Walnut Brass cleaning Media.

Walnut bedding is made from English Walnut hulls, whereas the Brass Cleaning
Media is made from Black Walnut hulls.
Hardness is the difference.
English Walnuts can be cracked opened in your hand, whereas the Black
Walnut is very hard, and a hammer is needed to crack open a Black Walnut.

The hardness of Black Walnut is 17,000 psi. Most other organic hull used for
cleaning and polishing such as Pecan, Coconut, etc., has a hardness of 10,000 psi.

The most cost saving brand of walnut media I've found is 7 lbs. @ $8.95, from Champion Brand Reloading Products "" .

evan price
April 15, 2008, 01:14 AM
My bad. I confused Flitz with Brasso. Thanks for setting the record straight.

April 15, 2008, 04:28 PM
Some very good info I got from this forum.

What I did was took a large coffee can and pop rivot some small paddles like instde. I built a shaft to go through the center of a 3" PVC pipe (Need 2 of them) A scrap motor from about anything or some salvage place, 2 belts and pullies and it turns the can.

I'm a small time reloader. I only do about 50 at a time. But what is nice I can use many coffee cans for many applications. I can keep it going non stop. Just switch the can.

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