Case Tumbler, usage advice from experts?


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O_Blade_O
June 3, 2010, 11:32 AM
Hi all,
I just bought a Frankford Arsenal tumbler with some tumbling media (withish fine grit; guess is something vegetable due it's smell).
Just tried with some already sized and recapped pistol cases and it works very well; at least i've already figured out one mistake not to do: primed cases gets the primer fire vent clogged easily.

So, i'd like to hear some of your experience with tumblers for optimal results; for example:

1- when, in the case cleaning "cycle", it is best used (before decapping, after decapping, before/after primer pocket cleaning, etc)

2- what is the optimal time of running of the device for, say, 200-300 cases of 9mm s ...

3- any advice for the cleaning media? I'm using this fine vegetable grit the dealer gave me with the device (5 kg). Do you use any other product in the tumbler? Or just plain cleaning media.

4- how much is the cleaning media recyclable? I polished cases that were almost clean by their own so the media did not change almost at all. how much times can be used ?

Sorry for the many questions... thanks everyone

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Walkalong
June 3, 2010, 11:40 AM
Here is a link for some cheap media (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=6362785&postcount=4) that works great. It's corncob.

bds
June 3, 2010, 11:54 AM
FA tumbler kit is shipped with corn cob media. I find harder walnut media better for cleaning spent cases and corn cob media do a better job of polishing. Some mix the two. Many put some polish into the media (I switched to NuFinish car polish and I like it - be sure to add a capful and run it until there's no clumps every 2-3 batches).


1- when, in the case cleaning "cycle", it is best used (before decapping, after decapping, before/after primer pocket cleaning, etc)
I tumble after I sort spent cases by caliber (so cases don't go inside each other) and before decapping/resizing (prevent media from getting into primer pockets). Tumbled cases keep the dies clean and the polish makes it easier to size.

2- what is the optimal time of running of the device for, say, 200-300 cases of 9mm s ...
I put around 500 9mm cases in the FA tumbler and run for 30 minutes with walnut/polish. My cases come from indoor range, so they are fairly clean and just need to have the black fouling taken off. If I want to put a bright shiny polish, I run them for about 1+ hour.

3- any advice for the cleaning media? I'm using this fine vegetable grit the dealer gave me with the device (5 kg). Do you use any other product in the tumbler? Or just plain cleaning media.
Walnut if my preferred media. I have used corn cob (mix it with walnut or it is good for polishing cases straight). Also, uncooked medium/long grain rice makes good cleaning media (it does a better job as it gets dirtier as surface gets rougher). I have not used ceramic yet.

4- how much is the cleaning media recyclable? I polished cases that were almost clean by their own so the media did not change almost at all. how much times can be used?
Walnut shell is very hard and really don't wear out. It just gets dirty. I even heard of some who wash the walnut media when it's really dirty and dry them for reuse. I just use my walnut media until it really gets dirty (for me, it lasts about 6 months).

BTW, Harbor Freight has 25 lbs of walnut media (coarse/fine - I prefer coarse) on sale for $14.99 - http://www.harborfreight.com/25-lbs-coarse-grade-walnut-shell-blast-media-92150.html

Brian10
June 3, 2010, 12:24 PM
How long you tumble depends on how clean you want it. I forgot to shut off my tumbler last night and my latest batch ran for 12 hours. I have to say that is the brightest, shiniest brass I've ever seen. Usually I run for 3-4 hours though.

ReloaderFred
June 3, 2010, 12:57 PM
Not knowing what products are available in Italy limits the suggestions somewhat. In all probability, the media that came with your tumbler is ground corn cob. There are several polishes that are made specifically for cleaning and shining brass, and they don't contain ammonia, which will weaken the brass and make it unusable.

The best time to tumble your brass is before you size it. This removes the dirt and debris from the brass and will help with the sizing process. You also won't have the problem with getting kernals of media stuck in the primer flash holes, and if it does stick in there, the decapping pin will push it out with the expended primer.

I personally prefer my brass to shine, so I leave it in the tumbler for several hours. It's personal preference as to how long you leave it in. If you just want to clean the brass, then it won't take as long, but if you want it to shine, then leave it in longer.

There are two commonly used medias for cleaning brass, and each works differently. The ground up corn cob that probably came with your tumbler works by absorbing impurities, and will work until the individual kernals can't absorb any more material. Ground walnut hulls work by friction, and due to their fairly solid make up, can't absorb. When they become rounded or coated with impurities, then they can't work any longer and will need to be replaced.

Hope this helps.

Fred

By the way, your English is very good.

Gadzooks Mike
June 3, 2010, 02:14 PM
1- when, in the case cleaning "cycle", it is best used (before decapping, after decapping, before/after primer pocket cleaning, etc)

I decap first, then clean, then inspect, resize, and load

2- what is the optimal time of running of the device for, say, 200-300 cases of 9mm s ...

When you're happy with it. Probably 2-4 hours.

3- any advice for the cleaning media? I'm using this fine vegetable grit the dealer gave me with the device (5 kg). Do you use any other product in the tumbler? Or just plain cleaning media.

I got some corncob with the Frankford that was really good. This last time I bought some Lyman corncob. Wish I had bought more Frankford instead. The Lyman stuff gets stuck in the primer pockets and the Frankford never did. They both clean well, though.

4- how much is the cleaning media recyclable? I polished cases that were almost clean by their own so the media did not change almost at all. how much times can be used ?

You'll find that it takes longer to get to the point when everything is shiny enough to make you happy. When it gets so long that you're pacing the floor waiting for them to get cleaned, it's time to buy new media. In my case, what used to take 3 hours or so to clean was starting to take around 6 hours. Figured it was time to buy new media. Now I'm back to 3 hours again. I didn't keep track of the number of cases or times the media was used, though, sorry.

O_Blade_O
June 3, 2010, 09:57 PM
Thanks everyone for your input.

As for the availability of certain items, we have Midway [Italy] so at least i could take almost all is available in the Midway U.S. supply list, so it should not be a problem if you name brands and types, but before that I'd like to look at "traditional" stores due to price (e.g. i got a 5 kg [11 lbs] corncob media for just 10 ).

Before the tumbler i used to wash brass, yes they would get nicely clean, at least outside, but the wash and rinse cycle was somewhat bothering both for me and for the messy operation.

So at the first trip to the shooting range i'll take as much brass as possible due to our laws, which allows us to have an unlimited supply of primed cases, i'll make that tumbler work for good :D

If it will take it's dear time, i'll look for some Walnut media instead of Corncob.

"NuFinish" car polish, what is it? Something like very fine abrasive paste? Becaise i happen to have some, i'd like to give it a try :)

bds
June 3, 2010, 10:13 PM
O_Blade_O, good to see reloaders in other countries :D

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ELUJpvkeL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

"NuFinish" is a synthetic car polish that's been around for decades. Check out NuFinish as brass case polish here - http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=814165

I use 1 capful of Nufinish & 1 capfull of mineral spirits (white spirits) every fourth load & just 1 capfull of mineral spirits the other 3.

The USED dryer sheets or cut-up paper towels (~1-1.5" squares) keep the media much cleaner (lasts longer) and keeps the brass from coming out a little "dusty".

Don't overdo it on the Nufinish & mineral spirits or your cases will come out feeling slick & oily or waxy.

Also, if you're doing larger rifle cases the paper towel can be cut in strips ~1.5" x 4", but for pistol cases any bigger than ~1.5" squares will just sit on top of the media & not circulate (which they need to do to clean the media). If the paper towel pieces are not totally black when you remove your cases, the pieces are too big. I have a Lyman 2500 & use 2-3 paper towels per load.

jcwit
June 4, 2010, 12:15 AM
A cheaper solution to NuFinish is ammonium and silica sand mixed with mineral spirits. Go light on the ammonium and sand. Yes I know about ammonium and brass, but guess what's the active ingredients in all brass polishers including NuFinish?


This is another one of those cases where "I heard it on the internet so it must be true." This poster needs to present some facts, maybe an msd sheet?

bds
June 4, 2010, 10:50 PM
jcwit, point taken and correction made to previous post (deleted unverified content). :D

Red Cent
June 4, 2010, 11:02 PM
There is no need to deprime or size before you tumble. Unless you are a benchrest shooter, there is no need to clean primer holes. There is no need to tumble more than 30 minutes unless you like "shiney". Go to the pet store and buy a bag of small animal bedding (corn cob crushed). Cheap.
I have reloaded for 50 years and the above works.

"Anhydrous Ammonia Degrades Brass

The anhydrous ammonia is not compatible with brass and
will corrode the valve and fittings on a propane cylinder.
�� The valve may become weakened and fail, causing a
leak.
�� The internal threads securing the brass valve to the
neck of the cylinder may also become weak and
eventually fail.
�� As the outside temperature rises, the internal pressure
increases, placing greater stress on the weakened
valve and threads.
The corrosion of the valve and fittings may create a
dangerous situation that can be detected when discarded
cylinders are found, when cylinders are returned to
retailers for exchange or refill, or when retailers visit
customer locations for fills or exchanges."

I don't use it. Never did.

bobelk99
June 4, 2010, 11:12 PM
I am a lot like red cent. I have loaded since 66, and I use coarse corn cob however it is cheaper. Have to run the tumbler a little longer than with walnut, but a lot cheaper.

I also use Nu-Finish, but any quality competitive product will work. Maybe Nu-Finish is a little better, but not much. Most of us use it because we already have it on the shelf.

If accuracy is very important to you then deprime before cleaning. Otherwise it is a personal thing. Yes, primer pocket are 'dirty', but that has very minimal impact.

Duration is very personal. Try 60 minutes and examine cases. If not pretty enough do more till you get the duration that meets your needs.

jcwit
June 4, 2010, 11:44 PM
I have never timed tumbling brass. Just dump it in the tumbler, turn it on, and go to bed. Morning comes with the finest looking clean brass their is.

I deprime before polishing/tumbling, like to have cleaner primer pockets, may not be necessary but its what I like. After tumbling then its sized.

I use either Nu-Finish or Turtle Liquid car polish. The little bit of wax helps to keep the tarnish away. Most any auto liquid polish will work.

I don't mess with that pet litter either. Ground/crushed cob from Graingers Ind. Supply, 20/40 grit, no plugged up flash holes or primer pockets, it flows like fine sand. Cheap too, approx $25.00 for 40 lbs. I've also been reloading for 50 years, if that means anything, not sure that it does.

1SOW
June 5, 2010, 12:03 AM
I clean pistol brass.

Ground/crushed cob from Graingers Ind. Supply, 20/40 grit: +1

I also deprime before I tumble.

I use one of those cheap lamp timers that turn your lamp on and off at the set interval. It works great for the tumbler. I tumble for 2+ hours using corn cob and polish.

bds
June 5, 2010, 12:19 AM
I use one of those cheap lamp timers that turn your lamp on and off at the set interval.
1SOW, great idea! Got several of those timers for Christmas tree lights.

fourdollarbill
June 5, 2010, 09:06 AM
If you over polish revolver/pistol brass it will stick and squawk through the carbide sizer die. I cut the polish by half and the brass comes out less shiny but it sizes with no problems.

Typicaly 2 to 4 hours for my pistol/revo brass is enough.

I get the (larger) granual corn cob lizard litter at the pet store and never once had a stuck piece blocking progress.

jcwit
June 5, 2010, 04:41 PM
If you over polish revolver/pistol brass it will stick and squawk through the carbide sizer die. I cut the polish by half and the brass comes out less shiny but it sizes with no problems.

Typicaly 2 to 4 hours for my pistol/revo brass is enough.

I get the (larger) granual corn cob lizard litter at the pet store and never once had a stuck piece blocking progress.

If one uses auto polish the wax/polymers like Nu-Finish or other liquid polishes there is enough lube on the cases to eliminate any sticking or squawking in the dies. At least in my Lee carbide dies.

Don't try the large corn cob litter from the pet store if you're ever going to polish bottle neck rifle cases, won't have any sticking in the flash holes or primer pockets for sure but try to get it out of the case itself, unless you're polishing .50 cal. BMG's.

UpTheIrons
June 5, 2010, 05:28 PM
4- how much is the cleaning media recyclable? I polished cases that were almost clean by their own so the media did not change almost at all. how much times can be used ?

It looks like your questions have been answered very well. I'd add to this one, though. Once you are tumbling, you'll notice how long it takes to get the cases clean (1-2 hours or so). When it starts taking another 50-100% longer to clean them to the same brightness, then it is time to toss that batch and use new media.

I have a separate can I store my used media in, and when it no longer cleans as quickly as it should, I dump it and get more from the original container.

I use walnut, and tumble before I decap to keep my dies nice and clean.

Enjoy your new hobby!

jcwit
June 5, 2010, 11:27 PM
I use walnut, and tumble before I decap to keep my dies nice and clean.



Maybe I should also explain that I do not use a sizing die when depriming. I use the universal decapper die or just a punch and holder that I made.

This way my primer pockets get cleaned and the case is clean for resizing.

O_Blade_O
June 9, 2010, 08:40 PM
Hi everyone,
First of all: Thanks for your replies .

NOW i really understand why tumblers exists. Just got from a range trip, very relaxing day (just 4-5 shooters there) and NO RELOADERS meant that i used no less than a broom to pick up brass :neener:

SO i got a lot of Sellier & Bellot 9mm brass to test the tumbler. Didn't have the time to get some liquid polish so i used some car polish paste that i had on the shelf. With mineral thinner i got it more viscous but thanks to the already hot climate here it was already good to go.
Mixed with the corncob media and some pieces of paper towel in the mix, turn that stove on and got my attention relocated to my little BBQ. ;)

Now now, and let me say:

WOOOOOW!

The brass IS GOLDY SHINY FRICKIN' NEW! I never thought that it would turn BETTER THAN NEW!
And not only the "new" S&B brass that came from factory loads, even 150 cases already 4 times reloaded of my own came like the "just shot" cases!!!

WOW people that's what i call an efficient tool for a bothersome work...

But i have another question... the paper pieces, yes they got very dark so they help somewhat keeping everything cleaner, but they in the long run got stuck in the central threaded rod that keeps the lid on the bowl... any advice on that? should i change in something less soft than paper, say, cotton pieces??

For all the other advices, thanks i like A LOT when people share their experience!

Happy reloading, and happy shiny bullets!!

ReloaderFred
June 9, 2010, 09:42 PM
I'm happy that you found the results satisfactory. One thing you might check though is the S&B brass. They make some steel cases that are copper washed, and you can't tell the difference from solid brass cases by just looking at them. Test them with a magnet and make sure they aren't steel, as steel cases don't load as well as brass does, and will split much sooner. If they're not attracted to the magnet, then you did well.

By the way, are you now allowed to possess 9x19 firearms and ammunition in Italy, or are you still restricted to 9x21? I have a 9x21 pistol (Tanfoglio) that is very, very accurate, but I also put a 9x19 barrel in it most of the time, since 9x19 is more plentiful in the U.S.

Hope this helps.

Fred

O_Blade_O
June 10, 2010, 09:06 AM
Yes i know the issue with the S&B brass.
In fact my regret that i left some other 50 cases on the ground before i checked with the car speaker's magnet that they were real brass; too bad they closed the lines already when i realized. Oh well, i picked up 300 just shot cases that are plenty for my uses.

The range i visit had the steel cased S&B but this time i was curious about the packaging and the trays of the factory rounds were a little different, then i did not see any "steel cased ammo" writing on them so i picked up as most as i could, hoping i was not wasting my time, appears that i did not ;)


For the caliber well we are still stuck to our 9x21 IMI. I still don't know why we must be the "world's pistol ammo fools", but as for availability and reloading there are no logistical problems there, as 9x21 is one of the most available and cheap brass around.
As for reloading it has some advantages though, more case lenght means more playability with powder volume and bullet types, e.g. i made some 100 grains bare lead .380 ACP bullets perfectly seated in 9x21 cases that would fly fast and straight, guess in 9x19 cases would have the lube band outside the neck.

I hope in the future there would be some rewriting of the laws in a more technical way but the 9 Para/9 IMI issue is one of the least in our strange laws....

rscalzo
June 10, 2010, 09:37 AM
Unless you are a benchrest shooter, there is no need to clean primer holes.
Service rifle gas gun shooters will clean and ream the pockets to insure proper seating depth. It helps to avoid a slam fire.

Just dump it in the tumbler, turn it on, and go to bed.
I do not recommend that. I had the top Lyman unit start to burn due to a faulty motor. I now let them run only when I'm home.

ReloaderFred
June 10, 2010, 11:28 AM
O_Blade_O,

Thank you for your reply. I was curious if that was still the law in Italy. We were supposed to go to Italy and shoot in the European Championship SASS match two years ago, but life got in the way and we weren't able to make the trip. We were told to not even try to bring our own guns with us. I can't imagine shooting in a championship match using rented or borrowed guns, but that's what the shooters who went had to do.

Some countries still have laws that prevent citizens from owning "military caliber" firearms such as Italy does. Mexico has the same law, but it only applies to the honest citizens down there.......

Fred

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