How to tumble and clean brass cases without electricity?


PDA






Jasper1573
April 1, 2012, 03:54 PM
Do any of you folks who have been doing this for more than a few decades have any methods of tumbling and cleaning brass without an electric tumbler?

Given ample supplies of reloading components, electricity isn't needed to reload except for tumbling brass...how was this done before electricity?

If you enjoyed reading about "How to tumble and clean brass cases without electricity?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
john16443
April 1, 2012, 04:06 PM
Water, Dawn dish detergent, sprinkle of Lemishine. Stir for 10-30 minutes and dry. Here's avideo from Mid South that can tell you more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epIG4MI4rqk

Water, vineager, salt, Dawn work well too.

rcmodel
April 1, 2012, 04:09 PM
You set around the wood stove with a rag and some brass polish for hours & hours everyday.
Or more likely, you just shot dirty brass.

Shiny brass reloads is a relatively new invention.

Buffalo hunters probably washed cases in hot soap & water to get the BP fouling & mercuric primer residue sorta cleaned out before it ate up the brass.

When I started reloading in 1962, several experts advised using an old bath towel & mineral spirits in the driveway to clean them after you loaded them to get the case & bullet lube off.

rc

Certaindeaf
April 1, 2012, 04:11 PM
I boil them with the above and stir them with a wooden spoon. Rinse, no repeat.

Certaindeaf
April 1, 2012, 04:14 PM
They probably only shot at night to spare themselves the horror.

James2
April 1, 2012, 04:18 PM
I loaded for many years before I even heard of tumbling brass. If you just take a cotton rag and wipe off any soot or dust lube them and resize them you will be just fine. Yes, over time brass darkens, but it doesn't need to shine to work. Shiny brass is cosmetic.

In fact, when out hunting the empties went into a pocket. By the time you got home the pocket had cleaned them. :)

Jasper1573
April 1, 2012, 04:33 PM
Thanks for the inputs...concerning boiling in the above, do you mean boiling in mineral spirits?

Truthfully, I am not so much concerned about the brass being shiny, as the wear and tear on my dies. Less fouling lengthens die life, or is this really a valid concern?

stormborn
April 1, 2012, 04:48 PM
A lot of non-tumbler brass cleaning procedures seem to call for lemon juice (I assume for the citric acid content) and a detergent - I wonder how the 'citrus cleaner' type products would work?

EddieNFL
April 1, 2012, 04:53 PM
Rinse, no repeat.

No conditioner?

I remember cleaning cases by hand as a no rank GI. I was in heaven when I finally scraped up enough cash to buy a tumbler.

blarby
April 1, 2012, 04:55 PM
If I were so inclined, I could add media to a milk jug, and shake them to whatever degree of clean I required.

I'll admit, I like jewelry brass. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I am aware that functionally clean is more than sufficient.

Thats a long separate story and thread in and of itself....

If it came to a point where I needed to reload, and there was no power... I can envision that scenario.

I would be grabbing every casing I could, and loading them as fast as possible...cleaning would not be part of the equation except to facilitate function.

Certaindeaf
April 1, 2012, 05:03 PM
Thanks for the inputs...concerning boiling in the above, do you mean boiling in mineral spirits?

Truthfully, I am not so much concerned about the brass being shiny, as the wear and tear on my dies. Less fouling lengthens die life, or is this really a valid concern?
No.. I referred to post #2. What do you load for? If it's with carbide, I'd daresay the electric bill for polishing one batch would outweigh a lifetime of cranking "dirt" up in your die.

918v
April 1, 2012, 05:27 PM
Attach some hexagonal drums to the wheels of your car. That way you can tumble brass while driving.

James2
April 1, 2012, 06:14 PM
Truthfully, I am not so much concerned about the brass being shiny, as the wear and tear on my dies. Less fouling lengthens die life, or is this really a valid concern?

Hmmmm, what do you suppose would be on your casings, that is harder than Carbide? In order to wear or scratch a die something needs to be harder than the carbide. Frankly, I don't think this is of any concern.

JLDickmon
April 1, 2012, 07:18 PM
Brew a pot of tea. Earl Grey works best. Let it steep for at least ten minutes.
Put the tea water in the coffee maker. Add coffee. Add more coffee. Double plus what you would normally use.
Brew the coffee.
While the coffee is brewing, run to the store. Grab a two-liter of Mountain Dew Throwback.
Drink the two liter on the way home.
Drink the whole pot of coffee.
Put your brass in the coffee can.
Add media.
Hold can in front of you.
When your heart rate returns to 76 or so, remove the brass from the media.
Reload your now sparkling clean brass.

jcwit
April 1, 2012, 07:23 PM
I have no idea, I've never been without electricity.

beatledog7
April 1, 2012, 07:26 PM
JL, thanks for the laugh!

jmorris
April 1, 2012, 07:39 PM
They lashed burlap feed sacks full of cases and the innards of the corn cobb pipes they had recently made to the spokes on their wagon wheels and hit the trail.

Blue68f100
April 1, 2012, 07:42 PM
I was shooting revolver long before I got and auto. I bought nickle brass so all I had to do was wipe it down. On my rifle rounds I just wiped the surface cleaned, lubed, sized, clean lube off with towel, then load. I went 30+ yrs without a tumbler.

dickttx
April 1, 2012, 07:46 PM
I remember the day when I was ten years old and we came home, and lo and behold, was able to flip a switch and have light!!!!!! No more kerosene lamps or Coleman lantern. First thing my mother did was throw away her Coleman iron and plug in a new electric one.

Jasper1573
April 1, 2012, 08:18 PM
Hmmmm, what do you suppose would be on your casings, that is harder than Carbide? In order to wear or scratch a die something needs to be harder than the carbide. Frankly, I don't think this is of any concern.


I don't know what is or isn't harder than carbide, but I do know that everything in God's creation is subject to wear and failure.

I was told when I started reloading that I should always clean/tumble my brass prior to resizing to save wear and tear on my dies. This general advice, I believe, was meant to save my dies from the constant abrasion from the carbon left behind by the burnt powder...that made sense to me.

The original question was, what to do should we have a catastrophic failure of the power grid, how would one clean brass? Maybe at that point it really won't matter, and dirty brass will do!

NeuseRvrRat
April 1, 2012, 08:52 PM
if the grid goes down, you've got bigger problems than dirty brass

kreidel
April 1, 2012, 09:03 PM
That's why you prep all your brass now so when SHTF you can reload by candle light.

30Cal
April 1, 2012, 09:26 PM
I used a rag. Added rubbing alcohol to it when I was removing case lube.

FROGO207
April 1, 2012, 09:29 PM
Put away some steel wool for the eventual need to polish your brass. Make sure it is in an airtight bag so it will not rust.:) You can also use the 0000 steel wool to start fires with if you have a flint or firesteel.:D It will polish brass as long as your fingers will be able to hold it I would imagine.:cool:

1SOW
April 1, 2012, 09:46 PM
I don't know what is or isn't harder than carbide, but I do know that everything in God's creation is subject to wear and failure
Amen.
I sharpen my carbide bits with simple carborundum sandpaper on a flat piece of glass.

The very tiny stones (less than 1/16") in our local range dirt/crud can probably damage a carbide die over time.

If you lose power, you lose water.
If you still have water you can clean brass to a fair shine with water-diluted vinegar and soap.
Vinegar is made from alcohol. If you have a good supply of alcohol on hand you can make vinegar!
SOOoo, If you have enough alcohol on hand, you don't need water and your brass-cleaning problems are solved!:neener:

kingmt
April 1, 2012, 09:51 PM
Why would you tumble brass?

Duckdog
April 1, 2012, 10:10 PM
Use the formula above, or get a zip trim and three jaw chuck and use steel wool . You can trim and clean all brass pretty fast. Works better than a cordless drill in my opinion.

T Bran
April 1, 2012, 10:35 PM
I only tumble every few firings or as needed like when they get dumped in the mud or sand. Before I resize I just give them a good blasting with the air compressor to remove some of the dust and grit.
Even with plain old steel dies wear would not really concern me much. Dies will last a long time even if you just clean the die when you finish a session. Sizing dies are pretty inexpensive so if one gets really bad just replace it or polish it up and keep on rocking.
As long as a case will chamber after sizing and the neck tension is good I'm a happy hunter.
Dont sweat the small stuff.
T

Jasper1573
April 1, 2012, 10:57 PM
if the grid goes down, you've got bigger problems than dirty brass
That's what they said in Noah's day...after it started raining!

bigedp51
April 1, 2012, 11:52 PM
Soak in old clay batter jug and stir with dried turkey leg, dry in sun. ;)

James2
April 2, 2012, 01:13 AM
I was told when I started reloading that I should always clean/tumble my brass prior to resizing to save wear and tear on my dies. This general advice, I believe, was meant to save my dies from the constant abrasion from the carbon left behind by the burnt powder...that made sense to me.

The original question was, what to do should we have a catastrophic failure of the power grid, how would one clean brass? Maybe at that point it really won't matter, and dirty brass will do!

I don't know man, I have been loading since 1957 and for most of those years I never had a tumbler. I have yet to wear out a die. Most of my early dies were not carbide but hardened steel. It would be interesting to ask if anyone has worn out a die and especially a carbide die. I did already answer your question "how to clean brass without electricity", wipe it off with a cotton rag. That worked for me for a good many years. Enjoy the hobby.

243winxb
April 2, 2012, 08:58 AM
Go down to the creek, find a shallow pool with sand in the bottom. Roll brass around in the sand. Dry on a rock in the sun. :D

threoh8
April 2, 2012, 10:33 AM
Hmmm ... one could adapt a small windmill to drive a tumbler directly or through a belt or chain. With the wind we get in West Texas, the blades wouldn't have to be very big, either!

oneounceload
April 2, 2012, 11:40 AM
The original question was, what to do should we have a catastrophic failure of the power grid, how would one clean brass? Maybe at that point it really won't matter, and dirty brass will do!

Bingo - if there was a major power grid failure, cleaning brass would be WAY down on the priority list of necessary things to do

LOLBELL
April 2, 2012, 12:05 PM
I have an electric tumbler that I use for large batches but for a small number (100 or less) I use the Lee Zip Trim and 00 steel wool. That seems to do a better job on really stained brass.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
April 2, 2012, 12:07 PM
How about rigging up a container attached to the lug nuts on your car or truck. As you are driving at certain slower speeds, the cases get cleaned.

JohnM
April 2, 2012, 12:12 PM
Oughta work :D
For those wet process users a trip down the freeway would do for a spin dry cycle.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
April 2, 2012, 12:14 PM
EXACTLY!

Or, put the brass and water and media inside one of the old tires on your beater-car and drive around for a week with half a tire full of water, cases and media.

Only drawback would be you would need to have access to a tire machine to pull the tire each time from the rim.

243winxb
April 2, 2012, 12:34 PM
How about rigging up a container attached to the lug nuts on your car or truck. As you are driving at certain slower speeds, the cases get cleaned. No electric to pump gas for cars. Need horse & buggy. Good to have the Amish for a friend. :D

brickeyee
April 2, 2012, 12:36 PM
Numerous chemicals have been used.

Most are acids, with even dilute sulfuric used.

Dip, swish, rinse, allow to dry.

dbarnhart
April 2, 2012, 06:58 PM
Way back when I started reloading (and the Rural Electrification Administration was being set up) I was WAY too poor to afford a tumbler. I wanted one but the cost of one was about the equivalent of two mortgage payments.

I did the best I could with a rag and elbow grease. I didn't worry too much about it. Frankly I was just happy to be shooting.

Bush Pilot
April 2, 2012, 07:19 PM
And to think this was only 20 years before they invented brass cartridges.

Chris-bob
April 3, 2012, 02:50 AM
Same thing we did to our wheat grinder. Attach it to the driven wheel of an exercise bike with a pulley and belt. You could do the same with a rotary tumbler. Just remove the motor and run a belt fro the tumbler to the driven wheel.
We did it to force us to exercise more regularly.

kingmt
April 3, 2012, 07:44 AM
Put your brass & media in a bucket. Throw in in the trunk or bed of the truck. After you get home from work it should be ready to use.

MtnCreek
April 3, 2012, 10:31 AM
Go down to the creek, find a shallow pool with sand in the bottom. Roll brass around in the sand. Dry on a rock in the sun. :D

That's how I do my dishes!

Shrinkmd
April 3, 2012, 10:51 AM
I had a few cases I forgot to clean, and I wanted to use up the primers in the feed. So I just took the 357 cases and just ran them right through. They actually went very smoothly through the sizer. I guess soot is a lubricant? Compared to new brass or obsessively clean stainless tumbled brass, the press ran much more smoothly!

I also learned that the coffee tastes the same whether I clean the machine vs just dumping the grinds out and swishing some water through the carafe. I'm letting my rimfires stay dirty as well...

mdi
April 3, 2012, 01:16 PM
I loaded for many years before I even heard of tumbling brass. If you just take a cotton rag and wipe off any soot or dust lube them and resize them you will be just fine. Yes, over time brass darkens, but it doesn't need to shine to work. Shiny brass is cosmetic.

In fact, when out hunting the empties went into a pocket. By the time you got home the pocket had cleaned them. :)
I too loaded several years, about 12 if I can 'memmer correctly, successfully, before I got a tumbler. When I inspected my brass before loading, I'd just wipe them off with a rag slightly dampened with mineral spirits. I never ruined/damaged a sizing die. When I wanted "show" or "BBQ" brass I'd polish some on a hardwood mandrel chucked in my drill or use nickel plated brass. When at the range it was easy to spot a reloader by his dull, obviously used brass. :p

I've never tried washing brass, but many fellers here do quite successsfully with the water, dawn, lemon shine mixture...

983mauser
April 3, 2012, 01:26 PM
Mineral spirits and lemonshine are all I have heard of using. I know poeple who put a little mineral sp in there tumbler also.

Sent from my ADR6350 using Tapatalk

Brian Williams
April 4, 2012, 01:02 AM
Get an empty Folger's coffee tub, the red plastic ones, fill with brass and media, snap on lid and secure with duct tape, find local friendly dog(retriever type), throw tub, repeat

KeithG
April 4, 2012, 01:43 AM
Same thing we did to our wheat grinder. Attach it to the driven wheel of an exercise bike with a pulley and belt. You could do the same with a rotary tumbler. Just remove the motor and run a belt fro the tumbler to the driven wheel.
We did it to force us to exercise more regularly.
Reading this I had a flashback to an episode or two of Gilligan's Island. Thanks.

Sent from my SGH-T989 using Tapatalk

moxie
April 4, 2012, 04:44 PM
I don't understand any of this. I give my brass to my assistant. When I require some, he provides it, nice and shiny. How he does that is beneath my concern.

Lost Sheep
April 6, 2012, 09:52 PM
One could do brass tumbling the same way as this woman. If she can knit while pedaling, one could probably load while pedaling.
http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/great-way-to-save-money/1jr585t5m?q=viral&rel=msn&from=en-us_msnhp&form=MSNHRO

I loaded for decades just wiping my brass down with a soft cloth. It shot just fine. I have vibratory tumbler now and my brass is prettier, but shoots just the same. It was a gift from a shooting buddy. I suspect he was embarrassed by the appearance of my ammunition.

Good luck.

Lost Sheep

CMV
April 7, 2012, 09:43 AM
You can also use the 0000 steel wool to start fires with if you have a flint or firesteel.

Even easier/faster - just touch both contacts of a 9-volt battery to it. Almost as fast as using a match to light tinder.

Pilot
April 7, 2012, 09:50 AM
Buy a generator.

moewadle
April 8, 2012, 07:31 AM
Perhaps it would not be so difficult to build a small windmill of some kind that is hooked to your tumbler and use that device for cleaning without electricity. :cool:

steve4102
April 8, 2012, 08:46 AM
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y17/steve4102/cid_671A88199D5F42F0992C58068B4E4EF0stevee30a71f89.jpg

If you enjoyed reading about "How to tumble and clean brass cases without electricity?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!