Bullet sealer removal?


November 20, 2012, 10:20 AM
Has anyone had experience removing the tar like bullet sealer from pulled down ammunition? I purchased a thousand pieces of "primed" LC 12 brass which translates into pulled ball ammo (really should have guessed that). I eventually had to deprime and ultrasonic clean them to remove stuck powder in the neck and in the case. A .45 caliber bronze brush on a drill would not dislodge the powder! Back to the point, as I FL size the brass to get the necks concentric, this tar gums up the expander ball every five rounds. I have noiced that brake cleaner dissolves this tar easily. Will it damage the brass? Has anyone found a better way?

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November 20, 2012, 10:33 AM
I'm not all that experienced in this, but the only bullet sealer I've ever seen was a very thin varnish-like substance that was fairly brittle applied to the exterior at the bullet-case juncture. It appeared to be identical to primer sealant.

Are you sure what you removed was old powder? Generally powder doesn't decompose like you've described so I'd think the "tar" was some sort of "disabling" substance designed to discourage use. But that's just a left field thought. Did you try and [safely] ignite a bit of the stuff to see if it would burn?

But I can tell you this, if I had cases with crud on them or in them a drill and brush couldn't remove I'd be very wary of using them. In fact, I wouldn't. Too many concerns over weakened cases and consistent case volume and too much good and cheap once-fired cases available.

This may or may not be relevant:

November 20, 2012, 11:20 AM
I'd stand them mouth down in 1/2" of lacquer thinner. If brake clean will dissolve the tar, lacquer thinner will certainly do it. Run a cleaning patch up into the mouth to finish cleaning. Keep the mouth down, you don't want any of this to run back and inert the primers.

Rubber band a half dozen or so and dip them together. Swish it around to speed up the cleaning.

November 20, 2012, 12:00 PM

Nasty stuff but it works. Don't breath too much it will mess up your brain.

Not available in all areas...like Cali.

Basically you are trying to remove asphalt and pine pitch.

Info buried in here (http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2003smallarms/hawk.ppt) See Slide 16 in particular.

November 20, 2012, 01:38 PM
Brake cleaner works.

November 20, 2012, 01:52 PM
Brake cleaner works.

Trichloroethylene also known as PERC or TCE is a suitable replacement CRC Brake Cleaner 05089 MSDS (http://www.crcindustries.com/faxdocs/msds/5089.pdf)

But the nonchloronated variants not as well. CRC Brake Cleaner MSDS 05084 (http://www.crcindustries.com/faxdocs/msds/5084.pdf)

poco loco
November 20, 2012, 01:57 PM
I use Mineral Spirits and a Scotch pad to remove the asphalt from the bullets as I have a can full of 173 fmjbt from the days of Mexican Match ammo.

I think a little of the scrubbie on a brush and dipped in the mineral spirits would do the same for the case necks. Then just rinse the loose stuff off in a small bowl of the solvent maybe bother to rerinse in Dawn and water to remove the solvent, dry and shoot.

November 20, 2012, 04:51 PM
Thank you all for the many responses and links! Brownells sells TCE by quart and gallon. I deprimed all the cases and will probably soak them in a closed container then agitate and drain, filter, repeat until I'm done. I was unsure whether there were solvents that were harmful to brass. This "cheap brass" sure is getting expensive!

November 20, 2012, 05:03 PM
I would try mineral spirits, then acetone, maybe even alcohol, before resorting to lacquer thinner, brake cleaner, and more toxic stuffs.

I'm betting mineral spirits does the job.

The problem with simply soaking/agitating in solvents is it'll dissolve the majority of the "body/carrier" of the tar, but it might leave some black grime on the necks. So you might still want to roll the cases around in a towel and run a neck brush through them, immediately after removing from the bath.

I've tried solvent baths to remove lubricant, and this removes all the lubricant quite nicely. But it still leaves the black rings on the neck and top of the shoulder. So I finish by shaking the cases around on a piece of solvent soaked paper towel in the bottom of a baking dish. Same solvent, but the paper towel gives the residue some place it'd rather stick than the brass.

I wonder if an M die wouldn't make your life easier, either? I'm simply amazed how much less effort the M die requires, compared to an expander ball. I have also just finished loading a batch of cast 223 bullets in brass that was freshly trimmed and outside chamfered, with no inside chamfer at all. I didn't have a single hitch during seating, but I haven't put the rounds on paper, yet. Next go around, I'm going to try no outside chamfer, either, at least on my rifle brass that I'm going to crimp, anyway. The more saved time, the better.

November 20, 2012, 05:47 PM
What is an M die? I am currently using an RCBS small base 308 Win die.

November 20, 2012, 05:51 PM
Lyman M die.

It is an expander die that pushes from the top like a pistol flaring die, rather than pulling through from the bottom.

So instead of trying to give birth to a little expander ball baby, pulling the M die back out of the case is much easier since it has already flared the neck on the upstroke. And there's a little oversize step at the top of the expanding rod that flares the end of the case mouth just above bullet diameter. So you can easily seat flat base bullets and even oversize cast bullets without even any case chamfer! But this is optional. If you don't want the extra flare, you can just unscrew the expander a little.

It's also groovy for removing the crimp from pulled, primed cases when you don't have to resize the case/neck. Say the bullet you're going to load is at least as big or bigger than the pulled bullet. Should work.

November 20, 2012, 06:49 PM
TCA and TCE are normally used where Hexane and Stoddard Solvent (aka mineral spirits) are less than or ineffective. BTW Mineral Spirits contains a percentage of Hexane. There is a reason that they use TCA in the production of the ammo in the first place.

When using TCE good ventilation is important, also wear gloves since it will dry the heck out of your skin by pulling the oil out.

Added, Acetone and Isopropyl Alcohol (99.9%), and Methanol don't work very well. Methanol is pretty nasty in its own right too. BTDT.

poco loco
November 20, 2012, 07:23 PM
The local hardware store sells the solvent you need and I would bet a lot cheaper, esp with shipping involved...

Nitrile gloves and good ventilation and you will be done before you know it. Soak a few minutes then brush out the goo with a soft brush, rinse and you are reloading.

November 20, 2012, 07:39 PM
You have options, you can fight the gum, only neck size outside OR use a Q-tip with xylene and the tar will melt like butter.
Widener's sells them, and says this in their ad.

November 20, 2012, 09:59 PM
All I have ever used to get the tar off is lighter fluid (naptha). Melts it right down. Next time you're at the grocery store or gas station grab a can.

November 20, 2012, 11:02 PM
i just got through 400 round's i got from poly gun bags ,11-12 lc new brass ,it buggered u7p the expander ball with the powder in the neck .
so i cleaned it out ,took some time but i used a small straight blade screwdriver to scrape the grain's loose and used a bronze .30 caliber bore brush in a small cordless mikita 12 volt drill driver to brush out the remining sealent ( it was clear ) .i am not gtoing to punch the primer's out they look ok .i cant see any reson to replace them you think ?

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