Wet thumbling vs regular thumbler?


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Katitmail
April 29, 2013, 09:39 AM
I need to make a decision now on how to proceed. I'm preparing to reload pistol cartridges mostly. Ideally I'd like to deprime during loading (I ordered XL650 press)

Money is always issue but I'd rather buy once. I don't have experience with neither cleaning methods but I'd rather deal with water than dust.

What is your experience with tumblers? I'm looking at 2:

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/426185/thumlers-tumbler-model-b-high-speed-rotary-case-tumbler-110-volt

OR

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/414369/frankford-arsenal-quick-n-ez-case-tumbler-master-kit-with-quick-n-ez-rotary-media-separator-110-volt

Capacity-wise I'm fine with doing about 500 9mm cases at a time.

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MikeOBWan
April 29, 2013, 10:00 AM
If your not going to deprime before tumbling, you probably don't want to "Wet Tumble" The brass takes a good amount of time to dry, especially with primers still in em.. I own the Thumblers Tumbler and it makes amazing clean brass... Good as new.. Inside and out. But I size/deprime and do all of my case prep and then Wet Tumble. Then I store the brass for reloading at a later date..

Katitmail
April 29, 2013, 10:06 AM
I like everything to be "nice" but I want process to be as efficient as possible. I guess later I can add casefeeder to XL650(ordered without) and deprime in a hurry before cleaning. But for now for $66 I can use this dry thumbler..

Steve C
April 29, 2013, 10:18 AM
Cleaning your brass is mostly for looks and isn't necessary to make ammo that goes bang and hits the target. If the cases get dropped in mud or gets some other stuff on them then a wipe down with a rag is all that really necessary.

Now it is nice to have and work with bright and shiny brass. A dry vibratory tumbler using walnut or corn cob and some case polish is the easiest method with the least mess to use.

GW Staar
April 29, 2013, 11:14 AM
The wet tumbling method was the first method.

Dry tumbling was a big improvement. Time, effort, cost, and convenience improved.....and besides, with the dry vibrating method, you can final polish your loaded rounds for 15 minutes and remove any remaining lube. Then reloaders discovered stainless steal pin media a couple of years ago. Wet tumbling became the bling fad it is because the media polishes insides and pockets as shiny and clean as the outside....like new pretty much.

For some reason, bling now trumps time, cost, convenience factors. We are a fickle bunch. We sure don't need the insides so clean.....but then we don't need the outsides polished either...just clean and grit-free.

One more thing. With squeaky clean insides, expanders, bullets, and primers go in with more friction than before. I like to tumble such in dry clean corncob for a short while before loading with the progressive. The thin white film it leaves is slightly lubricative.

silicosys4
April 29, 2013, 12:33 PM
For some reason, bling now trumps time, cost, convenience factors. We are a fickle bunch. We sure don't need the insides so clean.....but then we don't need the outsides polished either...just clean and grit-free.



I wouldn't call it a fad, honestly. There are several reasons wet tumbling has a following other than bling.

I went with the wet tumbling approach because in the long run I will save money on media. 5 lbs of SS pins last literally forever.

so wet tumbling trumps the cost of dry tumbling if you clean a lot of cases, once you figure in the cost of media. Wet tumbling can also be done easily on a large scale, using a cement mixer.
wet tumbling takes about 10 minutes total prep time per 2 hr run of 500 cases, as far as filling, emptying, and sorting. Drying time for me is another 2-3 days spread out on paper towels, but I leave the primer in as I shoot a lot of lower pressure loads and don't want to run sooty cases through my dies. Drying time drops to about 3-4 hours during the summer when I can leave them out in the sun...the oven works as well at low temp. I can't see it being more work than sorting a bunch of dry media and worrying about getting media stuck in flash holes.
Wet tumbling is also quieter, I've heard. I can have my tumbler running in one room, close the door, and not hear it in the next room
besides the time to dry, (easy to work around, just anticipate.) wet tumbling isn't inconvenient, per say, and it is more cost effective in the long run, unless you have a free and unlimited source of media.

GW Staar
April 29, 2013, 04:37 PM
I have a high speed Thumlers wet tumbler (with stainless pins), and two dry tumblers...a Berry's and a Lyman 2500....and I use them both. I find the noise is about the same...just different. Neither bothers me much when I'm at work.:rolleyes: or in another room. As for 10 minutes per run.....the bling I want takes 3 or 4 hours in the Thumler's, twice that in the others. 10 minutes doesn't do much for really dirty brass either method. Maybe 10 minutes to prep a load and turn it on? Dry is faster...just fill with corncob, add a capful of polish...turn it on...add brass while its running. Then give it six hours for most dirty brass.

When I wet tumble I always deprime first with a Lee Universal depriming die. When I dry tumble I don't. Wet tumbling has to dry. Dry tumbling goes through an RCBS separator for 20 seconds. No contest there of course.

I use 20/40 corncob with a capful of Dillon brass polish to get bling....takes about 6 hours (while I'm at work) The corncob I get for $28/ 40# at Zorro Products.....the particle size is small.....that means NEVER any media in the flash holes. Media is used over and over until it is black. Lasts a long time. Ordered some today (last order was 4 years ago....40# lasts a long time). Will need to order more polish too, but this time I'll just grab some automotive wheel polish....more for less.

Now then, if you got super dirty, stained, oxidized brass, it is best wet tumbled....or sold to a scrap yard if quality is questioned. Or if you want some beautiful bling, inside and out, to amaze your friends...wet is definitely the only way to go.

Ok, maybe fad was the wrong word! Obsessive, compulsive may describe reloaders like me better. Bling is NOT necessary, but it IS addictive.:) I do like to wet tumble my pistol brass. But I predict the extra time spent will get old. Already, if I'm not in the mood or just plain don't have the time to give it....I know I can still make reloads that appear new with the faster dry method. Once loaded....you can't tell the difference...looks-wise or performance-wise.........unless you have a magnifying glass....then you can see peen texture from the stainless pins....fact.

BTW Katitmail, I went 40 years without either. Just a clean rag. My advice....get the cheaper one.....get the wet one after you become hopelessly addicted to the hobby, and the need to feed the addiction comes again! :D

Katitmail
April 29, 2013, 08:58 PM
Well. Too late. I like nice things, I watched videos on how stuff turns out. I can plan ahead and I don't like dust. I have nice shop sink in my garage. Guess what I just ordered? :D

P.S. My plan is to NOT deprime first, I can dry it in a drier or I can leave it on a towel for days, I have time.

cfullgraf
April 29, 2013, 10:50 PM
I'm late to the party, apparently, but my experience pretty much mirrors GW Staar's. About the only difference is I use walnut shells instead of corn cob.

Dust with dry tumbling is highly over stated even without any additive in the media.

In my opinion, if you do wet tumble, which it seems you will be, decap the cases first.

TexasShooter59
April 29, 2013, 11:01 PM
I went with wet tumbling due to the elimination of dust and particulate in the air. (allergies for me) It does come out shiny, but using Imperial to lube cancels that out somewhat. Even wiping it off with alcohol, it just is not as shiny as fresh out of the washer.


:D

Katitmail
April 29, 2013, 11:32 PM
In my opinion, if you do wet tumble, which it seems you will be, decap the cases first.

Why? If I give it plenty of time to dry - lay down straight-wall cases on a towel for a day or so - they all should be dry.

johnandersonoutdoors
April 29, 2013, 11:38 PM
Katitmail,

During my reloading research last year I decided to go with wet tumbling due to concerns about dust. Not to mention I couldn't find at least a few bad things being said about just about every dry media vibratory style machine.

I did a pretty good amount of research and landed on the Lortone QT 12 model. I picked mine up at hobbywarehouse.com but they don't seem to carry that model anymore, or at least not at the moment. You can find it at therockshed.com to name at least one place.

I liked it over the Thumblers models for a couple of reasons. First, the top goes on with just one nut, instead of multiple nuts all around drums edge. Also, the housing in general seemed safer (I don't have kids but some might worry about little fingers). Not that this should be out where kids could get hurt anyway. Also, Lortone seems to have been making tumblers forever and I couldn't find any bad press. They are truly made for rock polishing, which is good because they are designed to last and intended to be run for weeks on end, as that is what it takes to polish rocks apparently.

I am definitely satisfied with my purchase.

kingmt
April 30, 2013, 10:13 AM
I never use my vibratory. The thing it's to noisy & dusty.

I got a rock tumbler from Harbor Freight that I've been happy with so far.

MikeOBWan
April 30, 2013, 01:16 PM
If you prep your brass first.. ie. size/decap and or trim also, the wet tumbling will clean out the primer pocked and make it look like new. It will also polish the lip and take any burs off of the case mouth. And of course remove lube and almost all spots/stains and what have you.

I completely prep my brass before wet tumbling, then i let it dry and store it. I NEVER prep brass when i'm reloading. All the brass i need to reload has been previously prepped and is ready for me. So i never have to worry about drying or lubing or anything like that. It may take a little more time, but this is a hobby to me, not a job.

4 hours is a good amount of time to wet tumble. I would also invest in a media separator like this http://www.midwayusa.com/product/176956/rcbs-rotary-case-and-media-separator . After wet tumbling dump the brass and pins into the media separator, run cold water into the separator and bucket until the water is clear, give the rotary portion a couple of spins, in the water, this will make all of the steel pins fall out into the bucket, and make sure all the soap is off of the brass. Then shake out the rotary portion to shake out the excess water. Dump the clean brass on a beach towel and do a bowling ball clean motion to the brass in the towel. This will shake off most of the remaining water, and pretty much dry the outside (not water spots). Then just set the brass out on the towel for about 24 hours.. I just place it inside under a ceiling fan for about 24 hours and it's dry. Then I sort by headstamp and place in Rubbermaid container ready to reload. PERFECT

Perfectly clean and happy..

This is Range pickup brass that has been out in the sun and elements for a year or better..
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/29536459/Photo%20Dec%2020%2C%2010%2006%2026%20PM.jpg

Katitmail
May 16, 2013, 10:00 PM
OP here..

I don't have press yet, but got my tumbler. Doing 3rd batch of 45ACP.
1. I didn't use lemi-shine
2. I did 2 hr tumble on first 250 rounds - checked out of curiosity and I can tell it's as clean as it can be.
3. 2nd batch I did 1hr run and it's clean outside but there is some residue on inside.
4. Unit itlself is hm.. I don't know. What would it add to cost to add 4 roller bearings?! Drum seems to be well-made, motor - I'm not sure..


Conclusion:

It will work great for pistol brass, no need to run 4hr. 1-2hr will get it as clean as it needs to be to reload and handle. I just spread it layint on a towel - I have plenty of time, no problem if it dries for couple of days..

oldpapps
May 17, 2013, 01:03 AM
Did you ever think of looking at Harbor Freight? $50 and shipping will get you a double tub tumbler. Add steel pins, a squirt of detergent, whatever other stuff you want and fill it with water.

As for drying. I dump my rubber tubs into a round steel bowl, flush with fresh water till it is clean, pick out the cases, shaking them under the water so the pins don't adhere to the brass and drop them on a towel. The towel goes on an old cookie sheet and that goes into a preheated oven (300 to 350 degrees depending upon how much wet brass is being dried), Shut off the oven when the brass goes in. No heat problems here, only dry brass by the time the oven is cooled.

It works, no pain.

rcmodel
May 17, 2013, 01:10 AM
If you like setting around watching paint dry while waiting to reload??

You will simply LOVE wet tumbling!

I got past that stage in 1965 or so when I built my first dry media tumbler.

And I still have no urge to regress to 1965 and waiting for my brass to dry so I can reload it again.

rc

ForneyRider
May 22, 2013, 06:05 PM
My Thumler model D showed up after months of backorder. Works as advertised with Dawn, Lemi-Shine and SS material. I ran some .223 that was mix of like new to very corroded and all of it came out like new in about an hour. The machine is very quiet. I won't use my Lyman except as backup.

rondog
May 22, 2013, 06:57 PM
Wet tumbling, you say? Bwaaahahaha......

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/ammo%20and%20reloading/th_DSC_0165.jpg (http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/ammo%20and%20reloading/DSC_0165.mp4)

Cosmoline
May 22, 2013, 07:23 PM
If you like setting around watching paint dry while waiting to reload??

You will simply LOVE wet tumbling!

Like having your garage filled with clouds of toxic dust while your hands turn black and you try to pick filthy bits of nut shell from primer pockets?

Then you'll LOVE dry media.

;-)

Done them both, will never go back to the dry stuff. I don't mind waiting a day. In fact my method is to prep large quantities of cases and set them aside in the ready box, then do the powder and bullet as needed, when needed.

SpentCasing
May 22, 2013, 07:40 PM
Right now is use a Lyman US cleaner. It works fine but no bling. I have 2 small kids in the house so lead and dust is an issue for me. When things get back to normal I plan on upgrading to a Thumblers tumbler with SS media. Seems to be the perfect way to go for my uses.

GLOOB
May 22, 2013, 08:29 PM
If you've got a square foot of space where you can plug a dry tumbler outdoors, dust problem is solved.

while your hands turn black and you try to pick filthy bits of nut shell from primer pockets?
That's pretty funny. How about not using that kind of nut shell you probably bought at the pet store or tumbling before decapping? That's like saying wet tumbling is great except for your carpet being soaked when ur done separating the media... oh, you're supposed to do that over the sink, are you?

Dry tumbling is probably the best way to dry and polish wet cases, streak-free. While you're at it, you might as well let the dry tumbling do some of the cleaning, too. This is exactly what I do. Wash the brass in water and detergent for a couple minutes, then dry tumble for 45 min.

thump_rrr
May 23, 2013, 03:01 AM
If you wash the cases you must wait for them to dry prior to dry tumbling or you will be picking the corn cob out of every case.
Let's face it wet tumbling is superior to dry tumbling.
If you're either too lazy to spend an extra 2 minutes or too frugal to purchase the initial setup it's ok but don't try to convince everyone else.

The fact is that most reloaders probably have enough brass so that they don't need to wait for those particular pieces of brass to dry before reloading them.

rondog
May 23, 2013, 03:14 AM
Yeah, after I wet tumble 20-25# of cases in my cement mixer, I just let 'em dry in the sun. I don't actually get around to loading them for weeks, sometimes months. I usually clean 'em up then they go into storage until I'm ready for them. I keep thousands of cases on hand....far more than I'll ever really need. I make more ammo than I shoot, to the point where storage is getting to be a problem. But I don't intend to run out either.

savanahsdad
May 23, 2013, 10:42 AM
If you wash the cases you must wait for them to dry prior to dry tumbling or you will be picking the corn cob out of every case.
Let's face it wet tumbling is superior to dry tumbling.
If you're either too lazy to spend an extra 2 minutes or too frugal to purchase the initial setup it's ok but don't try to convince everyone else.

The fact is that most reloaders probably have enough brass so that they don't need to wait for those particular pieces of brass to dry before reloading them.
hummmm.... I guess I wont use corn-cob, as I do the same thing as GLOOB , I use lyman red rugh walnut media in my lyman 2500 turbo. and the few drops of water don't hurt anything , they come out clean and dry, with no media to pick out of the cases ,

wash, drane, and in the tumbler they go ,

Cosmoline
May 23, 2013, 02:16 PM
How about not using that kind of nut shell you probably bought at the pet store or tumbling before decapping?

I used only media designed for tumbling brass. And it inevitably got dusty and nasty. Depriming after tumbling got both my hands and the dies covered in dust and more than once a stray bit of media got jammed in the die. Since going wet I've had nothing but smooth sailing. I drain and rinse in the sink with no mess left behind, and the brass dries easily in a day or two laid out on plastic liners and flour sack rags. There's very little residue if any on the brass when I handle it for priming and loading. I don't even need to use stainless media, though I'm sure if I wanted high shine I could.

Wash the brass in water and detergent for a couple minutes, then dry tumble for 45 min.

?? So you're already doing a partial wet clean.

GLOOB
May 24, 2013, 02:57 PM
If you wash the cases you must wait for them to dry prior to dry tumbling or you will be picking the corn cob out of every case.
FYI, if you add dry cases to thoroughly dampened corn cob media, you will get corn cob cemented into the bottom of a rare case, here and there.

I've been doing this for a good long while, and I still don't understand why this is: When I add wet cases to dry corn cob, I get nothing but clean and shiny brass faster than normal. And that goes for bottleneck rifle cases, too. No problem. Not a single impacted case. I would have guessed it would go the other way around.

And I'm not talking about a few drops of water. With a big enough tumbler full of wet brass, I've had the media so throroughly wet it didn't turn for the first couple min. But no matter, it was still clean and dry in 45 min or less.

When I add just a small batch (of my 45ACP, say), to a tumbler full of dry media, the powder marks take a heck of a lot longer to come clean - presumably cuz there's less water:media ratio, but I concede there are some other factors in play.

So you're already doing a partial wet clean.
Yes, pretty much 1 min of washing, 2-3 min of draining, 45 min of "dry" tumbling.
I don't even need to use stainless media, though I'm sure if I wanted high shine I could.Well, I thought "wet tumbling" and "stainless steel media" were synonymous. What kind of wet tumbling are you doing?

Cosmoline
May 24, 2013, 04:38 PM
Well, I thought "wet tumbling" and "stainless steel media" were synonymous. What kind of wet tumbling are you doing?

I just roll the brass in the thumbler with some concentrated brass cleaner (sidewinder) though I suspect it's just expensive dishwashing gel. The brass is very clean after a few hours, but not too shiny. That's how I like it. After a few cleanings it develops a very neat looking finish. Not the green corrision but a kind of black gold overlay you find on antique brass. It's so nice looking I've been thinking about sticking a brass frame in there to see if I can get it replicated.

Of course if you don't want that the stainless steel will shine up the brass like factory new. But you don't actually need it to get rid of the powder residue.

But I think it comes down to reloading methods. For me I do large batch only. For the .357 for example I have a rolling stock of around 600 brass that I go through in a few months, then do a mass resizing/depriming/belling/etc. before dumping load after load into the thumbler over the course of a week or so. Then after it dries I prime it all and put it into freezer bags. When I'm ready to load, it's a simple matter of pulling out 50 or 100 at a time, dumping powder from the auto measure and seating the bullet.

Other people do reloading in much smaller batches and don't keep big totes full of prepared and primed brass.

RustyFN
May 24, 2013, 07:41 PM
Well. Too late. I like nice things, I watched videos on how stuff turns out. I can plan ahead and I don't like dust.

Did somebody tell you that dry tumbling was very dusty or are you just assuming that? I tumble with 50/50 walnut/cob and don't have any dust. I add 1/2 cap full of Nu Finish car polish and a paper towel tore up into pieces. The cases come out looking like new on the outside, no reason to need the inside clean. If you are going to wet clean without decaping the primer pockets won't get clean and they will take a lot longer to dry.

so wet tumbling trumps the cost of dry tumbling if you clean a lot of cases, once you figure in the cost of media. Wet tumbling can also be done easily on a large scale, using a cement mixer.
wet tumbling takes about 10 minutes total prep time per 2 hr run of 500 cases, as far as filling, emptying, and sorting. Drying time for me is another 2-3 days spread out on paper towels, but I leave the primer in as I shoot a lot of lower pressure loads and don't want to run sooty cases through my dies. Drying time drops to about 3-4 hours during the summer when I can leave them out in the sun...the oven works as well at low temp. I can't see it being more work than sorting a bunch of dry media and worrying about getting media stuck in flash holes.

So how much did yours cost. My tumbler cost $45 and can clean around 800 to900 9mm cases at one time. I have $27 invested in media and have used around $3 in the last seven years. I have a feeling I won't catch up to what you have spent in my lifetime. To fill the tumbler, empty the tumbler and separate from the media takes me around 4 minutes. Once they are separated from the media they are ready to load. There is no media in the flash holes because I tumble with the primer in.

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