Tumbler media management


September 12, 2009, 07:03 PM
Hey guys! I was just hoping I could get some useful advice on how you all manage your tumbling media. While I know that this is a consumable item, I'd like to extend the life of the media as much as I can (every dollar counts these days).

I've been using crushed walnut shells in my tumbler, without the addition of any kind of polishing media (I do add a couple of paper towel pieces to absorb dirt, as I was previously advised to do). I've tumbled probably around a couple thousand cases with this media so far, and I'm starting to have some serious dust issues off of this stuff; it is to the point that the casings come out with a noticeable coating of dust on them, which seems to defeat much of the purpose of cleaning them.

So, here are a few questions I have rattling around right now:

1) How much of a "tumbling life" do you get from your media? I've seen some people mention 10-20k rounds, which is far beyond what I've done so far.

2) How long do you tumble for?

3) Do you prep brass before you tumble? (ie: wash it, etc)

4) Does a polishing media control dust?

4a) If so, what can I use that WILL NOT damage the brass, and does the polish reduce the life of the media in other ways?

5) Can you do anything (other than adding paper towels, which I've done) to keep the dust down? My media seems to be cleaning powder residue still, but the brass is coming out very dusty.

6) Can you do anything to revitalize media before you toss it?

Again, I know this is a replaceable part of the reloading process, but I don't want to throw out "good" media if I'm simply missing a few key things that can save me money!

Thanks for the help!

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September 12, 2009, 09:31 PM
You will know when it quits cleaning well, or it gets so it can't hold more dirt, etc.

I use Polish from Midway, but have used Berrys, and it works about the same. I tumble longer than most folks, as I routinely let cases run all day or all night. I sprinkle water in the media if it gets dried out, and sometimes put in used drier sheets to pick up some of the dirt and prolong media life.

I bought a big bag from Grainger fairly cheap. No shipping if you pick it up at the store.

14/20 Grit (http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/items/2MVR4)

20/40 Grit (http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/items/2MVR5)

dagger dog
September 12, 2009, 09:35 PM

The longer you use the medium(corn cob,nut shell) the dustier it gets, the particles lose their cutting edge and that is the dust that accumulates. The "dirt" from the brass ,lube,powder,primer,adds to the dust until the medium" wears out".
It depends on how dirty the brass is, as far as usefull life of the medium goes.

I don't wash my brass before tumbling, and I scrounge some brass, I guess washing very dirty brass would extend the life of the medium.There are some washes made for reloading.

The adding of a ammonia free polish, some made specifically for tumbling brass, will stop the dust for a couple of runs until the liquid carrying the polish evaporates, some use the used fabric softener sheets used in the drying cycle of garment drying to control some of the dust, the used sheets are cut into small squares and added to the medium, they do pick up alot of the dust but then have to be replaced too.

I batch my media, I like to use walnut shell for cleaning, then corn cob for polishing, when the walnut shell gets too dusty I replace it, when the corn cob gets dusty I revitalize it with a ammonia free polish from Frankford Arsenal, some use an automotive polish that is ammonia free. Once the revitalized corn cob gets too dusty I mix that with the worn out walnut shell, and use that as my first cleaning media tumbling the brass before I deprime, then I deprime and run that through a new batch of walnut shell after depriming, to help clean the primer pockets, then a third tumbling with corn cob and polish, for that like new shine.

It may sound a little too much but I do get as much use out of the media before I throw it out .

I do have a new batch of pet bedding corn cob, that I am going to see if it works as well as the reloading corn cob, the pet stuff is a little larger particle size, but it should do as well as the other and it is quite a bit cheaper.

September 12, 2009, 11:09 PM
I do have a new batch of pet bedding corn cob, that I am going to see if it works as well as the reloading corn cob, the pet stuff is a little larger particle size, but it should do as well as the other and it is quite a bit cheaper.

It works well for the larger handgun cases, from 40 on up, BUT I recommend against using it for 9mm or especially .223! If you want to spend most of an evening prying MEDIA out of cases, ignore my warning.

I've used some corncob until it was nearly black, just adding midway polish to it every other session to make it shine. The dust is controlled well with used drier sheets. I got some walnut lizard litter, but couldn't tolerate the constant dust.

September 12, 2009, 11:10 PM
I have done about 10k before I change it out. I have noticed that it depends more on how many times I run it rather than how many casings I tumble. If I tumble 100 cases 10 times it wears out about as fast as if I do 1000 cases 10 times. That varies depending on how dirty the brass is.

September 12, 2009, 11:55 PM
I tear up two used dryer sheets and toss them into the tumbler. They absorb a lot of dust and (probably) lead dust and primer residue.

As long as I refresh these dryer sheets frequently, my media stays fairly clean.

September 13, 2009, 09:45 AM
If I have picked up range brass, I wash it first. Here is what I use:
1C water
1C white vinegar
1tsp salt
1tsp dish/laundry soap

Mix it up & add brass. Stir/agitate every 3-5 min for 30 min.
Rinse in clean water then dry.
Tumble in walnut that has run for 20-30 min with a capful of Nu-Finish car polish & 1 cut up dryer sheet(used). Let ir run for 2-3hours and it should look almost factory new. If you want it blindingly bright, run it for 2-3 hours in cobb after and grab some shades.

If your media starts to get dirty and needs to be revitalised, add in 2 capfuls of mineral spirits and let it run for 30 min with another dryer sheet in it.

Steve in PA
September 13, 2009, 11:33 AM
1) Media life depends on how dirty the brass is. When it starts to take longer and longer to clean the brass, I change the media. I use crushed walnut for cleaning, and crushed corn cob for polishing.

2) I tumble until the brass is clean. Probably a few hours or so. I have let some really dirty/cruddy brass run long. I'll check it so often to see how its doing.

3) No prep

4) Yes.

4a) I add some Iosso liquid case polish to the media. Cuts down on the dust big time. Just becareful, because you can over-saturate your media.

5) See above

6) I guess some people might wash or clean their media, but for me.....its so cheap, why bother??? I buy the big bags from pet stores, so when the media is dity, I change it out.

September 13, 2009, 12:03 PM
I have two batches of media.
I keep one for for basically polishing only, and it gets recharged every couple three batches with a dose of Iosso case polish in the corn cob the 14/20 grit from Graingers. Usually about 3 hrs or less yields bling bright brass. I have another batch that I use for getting lube off rifle brass and this gets a used dryer sheet with each batch. This keeps the Dillon bowl pretty darn clean.

Remember be care buying Corn Cob especially from Wally World and Pet stores as it can be too large for reloaders to use, and it can bung up rifle cases tight!

Lizzard liter is great from Wally World or pet stores as it is just right for reloaders.

Corn Cob Polishes and Walnut cleans.

Careful of red rouge added to some media......not good for you dies!

Run media without brass to circulate any addititves.....cutting NuFinish with mineral spirtis helds a lot!

evan price
September 13, 2009, 11:52 PM
If you drizzle in a bit of NuFInish it will trap the dirt in the media, then your towel pieces or dryer sheet pieces will trap the dirt better.

I change my media when it is dirty such that the cases do not come clean easily any more. Also the particles are rounded and tumbling all night does not clean the brass.

September 14, 2009, 01:25 AM
The above posts pretty much tell it all. MY only addition is when the media starts to get round edges (stops cleaning) I will dump out about half and add new to make up the difference. I find this works about as good as a total change out for me. The USED dryer sheets are needed to keep the dust at bay. They really do work.

September 14, 2009, 01:48 AM
Does Nufinish harm brass? I've heard it recommended in the past, but have always been careful about additives, just out of concern for preserving the brass! But, I'd sure like to do something to control this dust!

September 14, 2009, 02:07 AM
I have not had any damage from Nu Finish on the brass or to the finished ammo. Make sure you add the polish before you add the brass and run it for about 10 min first to mix.Then put in brass and the used dryer sheet ripped or cut in at least quarters and polish away.

September 14, 2009, 02:54 AM
I was dumping my used media in a hole in my backyard . This stuff was as black as a coal miners hands . I was looking in the hole the other day after it had been raining for like a week straight and the media looked brand new . I am about half tempted to reclaim some of it . I use the dryer sheets and they work like a champ for controlling the dust .

September 14, 2009, 03:49 AM
I also use strips of USED dryer sheets but mostly to clean the media. The sheets actually clean the media very well and prolongs the media life a lot.

I use a 50/50 mix of corn cob and crushed walnut shells which seems to work very well for me. As to how long to tumble, as long as necessary. It seems it takes a little longer to clean the brass each time you shoot it. (at least in my experiance)

September 14, 2009, 10:38 AM
I use "Lizard Litter" with some old dryer sheets, a bit of "NuFinish" and a shot of "Endust" which keeps the dust down. I haven't kept track of how long my media lasts. When it gets dusty, I spray on more Endust (with no brass in the tumbler. Spray, let if vibrate awhile and then add brass.)

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