Cleaning brass for steel dies?


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Buck13
April 22, 2013, 03:54 PM
In a recent thread, I saw a comment saying that you must clean brass before resizing with a steel die. I have processed all my .32-20 brass about twice now after firing, with a Lee steel sizer. I'm not fastidious about its appearance, so I have simply been rolling the fired cases on a lanolin/isopropanol pad and launching them into the sizer. No problems so far.

Since this is a revolver, the cases go from the zip-lock bag of loaded ammo to my hand to the cylinder, then the reverse. No real chance of picking up grit from the ground, although they do carry around a bit of poorly burned powder sometimes (which *has* caused a problem when a grain gets under the extractor star and makes the cylinder stick). Am I setting myself up for a stuck case in the die, or was that comment referring to pick-up brass that might have actual dirt on it?

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Walkalong
April 22, 2013, 04:12 PM
As long as it is clean (IE, free of dirt etc) it will be fine. Shiny is nice, but just for looks.

Jesse Heywood
April 22, 2013, 04:30 PM
Like Walkalong said, .32-20 needs to be clean. The problem is the brass is thin and is easily deformed during sizing. Use a very thin coat of lube and check for small dents around the shoulder after sizing. Sounds like you're doing things right.

Dframe
April 22, 2013, 04:38 PM
Like the others have said "Clean". What you want to avoid is particles of grit or sand getting into and scratching the walls of your dies. As long as the brass is completely free of foreign material, it doesn't matter bit if it isn't shiney.

45lcshooter
April 22, 2013, 04:51 PM
Clean brass is good. Shiney brass is mostly for looks.

rcmodel
April 22, 2013, 11:07 PM
I saw a comment saying that you must clean brass before resizing with a steel die.
What you want to avoid is particles of grit or sand getting into and scratching the walls of your dies.Actually, there are very few things in this world hard enough to scratch a resizing die.

They are fine grade steel, heat hardened harder then woodpecker lips.

Even a grain of silica sand would probably embed itself into the soft brass case before it would actually scratch a sizing die.

What most die scratches turn out to be are galled brass stuck to the polished steel surface.
That in turn scratches the brass case, and leads folks to think the die itself is scratched.

I can assure you in 999 out of 1000 times, it isn't scratched.

And the die can be restored to full usefulness with Copper solvent, or a quick re-polishing with a flap of 400 emery paper in a split wood dowel rod using a cordless drill.

rc

kayaks
April 22, 2013, 11:29 PM
I can't say that a die would wear out from dirty brass, but it seems easier to work with everything, if I clean it some before resizing. I don't try to polish it up to a high degree until it's been sized. A final pass through the tumbler takes off the lube...

Buck13
April 23, 2013, 01:48 AM
Ac
Even a grain of silica sand would probably embed itself into the soft brass case before it would actually scratch a sizing die.


Good point. Embedding the grit into the brass should take way less force than into the steel. Maybe once >90% of the particle was in the brass, the forces would equalize and make a small gouge in the steel?

I'll stop worrying about this issue now!

Searcher4851
April 23, 2013, 10:30 AM
Unless your brass sits around in a pile of diamond chips and picks some up, I wouldn't worry about the die scratching. On the other hand, clean brass makes sizing that much easier.

Buck13
April 23, 2013, 11:33 AM
I can only afford piles of cubic zirconium chips. :cool:

joecil
April 23, 2013, 11:39 AM
I use a Lee Universal decapping die which doesn't care if clean or not then into the tumbler to be cleaned. I use walnut shells and store it till needed. I use Hornady One Shot for the a lube with my steel dies but all of my pistol dies are carbide for the re-sizer dies. I do have steel both Lee and RCBS for my 45-70 depending on the bullet being used.

Arkansas Paul
April 23, 2013, 12:05 PM
I like mine pretty so I tumble for a few hours before sizing.
Even if you don't want them pretty, I would still tumble for a little bit to knock off any big stuff. Especially since I get a lot from range pick up. Dirt may not hurt the dies, but it will make sizing difficult and won't do the dies any good.

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