Brass cleaning methods???


March 14, 2014, 12:39 AM
With a few moves and little kids running around my reloading, and shooting for that matter, has taken a back seat for the past three years. Starting to get the presses fired back up and hitting the reloading forum and have been seeing a lot of posts on ultra sonic cleaners and stainless steel pellet cleaners.

Pardon my ignorance but all I've known is vibratory tumbling and I had thought it was doing the job for me. Have I been missing out on something or is this a Ford/Chevy argument?


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March 14, 2014, 03:41 AM
Somewhat ford vs Chevy thing but we all know Chevy is better:neener:
I still use walnut and BBs in a vibe. A lot of people are wet tumbling with ss media cause the ss never wears out and the brass is extremely bright :rolleyes:
Everyone has their own way, key is clean brass no matter the method.
Welcome back and congrats on knocking the dust off your press.
The pitter patter of small feet warm my heart especially when the little person shows great interest in the hobby, my youngest is self proclaimed ballistic

March 14, 2014, 03:45 AM
I will keep on using my tumbler/corn cob....Thank the Lord for the big block Ford.:D

March 14, 2014, 03:48 AM
FE dittos to ya ColtPythonElite!
...and while your thanking the Lord, how about the 289/306hp!

March 14, 2014, 04:02 AM
I like ultrasonic cleaning but its also all I've ever known so I can't give much comparison.

March 14, 2014, 04:19 AM
I started out a couple years ago with ultra sonic cleaning. It gets your brass clean but I've moved on to crushed walnut (I add Mother's chrome polish to the media) in a vibratory cleaner. Most ultra sonic cleaners are pretty small unless you spend a few hundred bucks on them, and the brass just doesn't shine like it does with walnut. Not to mention you have to dry the brass with an ultra sonic. I have no experience with SS Lin wet tumbling but the results I see people post look nicer than what walnut is capable of.

March 14, 2014, 05:19 AM
For quickness i clean with a milk jug of hot water + soap + lemishine. Dry in 200 degree oven then tumble in corn cob. 200 PCs of 40s&w shiny in 2 hrs is good enough for me. Honestly after an hour in lemishine they are good enough, but I like them shiny

March 14, 2014, 07:57 AM
Depending on the condition of the brass I will use citric acid and hot water, sometimes. Cleans inside and out. But my old standby is vibrator, walnut shells and my 302 Ford pickup.

345 DeSoto
March 14, 2014, 08:07 AM
I recently started using SS/Dawn/Lemishine to get the primer pockets and inside of the cases absolutely Factory CLEAN. I size/deprime first, then SS tumble. After they're completely dry, I prime/bell the mouths. After loading I tumble in walnut in the viberatory tumbler. I am an absolute maniac for CLEAN reloads...before and after reloading.

March 14, 2014, 11:20 AM
I use cheap tumbler and water/steel media. A little dish soap and lemonade plus 4 hours and look brand new. Sort while watching X Files reruns.

March 14, 2014, 11:38 AM
I dry tumble. I don't like the idea of having to dry my brass. If you are already set up to dry tumble, no need to invest money in a wet tumbler rig. Spend that money on components. I am not in any way bashing wet tumbling. It works great from what I have seen. Just two different ways to get to the same place.

March 14, 2014, 12:17 PM
I've never used a tumbler so I can't comment on them, although I suspect they must do a pretty good job or they wouldn't have sold so well over the years. I bought a small, unheated ultrasonic cleaner some time back for around $50 on sale. I can pre-heat the solution in the microwave and get REMARKABLY clean cases in about ten minutes. However, there are two areas wher my cleaner falls short: the base of the case on the inside, and under the shoulder on the inside. Fortunately my .223 cases are small and are easily finished with cotton swabs when they are still wet. I plan on using one cotton swab per case, so I go through about fifty swabs every time I clean a box of fifty cases. I swirl them around on the bottom and up under the shoulder to wipe off the still-wet carbon before drying. Yes, the swabs are a pain to have to use, but the remaining carbon comes off quite easily and leaves, again, a REMARKABLY clean case in short order. Good luck to you whatever your choice.

March 14, 2014, 02:36 PM
Some of us drive Studebakers and have tumbled brass wet, dry and using a vibe cleaner. Whick way you do it can depend on quantity and for that it is hard to beat a large bown viberating machine. At one time I had an extra clothes dryer sitting around and was thinking about taking the paddles out and using it with five gallons buckets of brass and media......fortunately for me mt brass source dried up before I had to go that route.

March 14, 2014, 03:05 PM
I've always used #0000 steel wool with my Lee Zip Trim. Clean enough for me.
Guess I'm no help here.

March 14, 2014, 05:07 PM
I am seriously considering the thumlers tumbler I hear really good things about it. It is a Ford or Chevy argument though. My dad has been loading brass for 50 years the only cleaning his get is a brush through the inside and that's it. Looks really bad.

Chevy was okay until they became a Mexican company. As for me I like clean brass and Ford:neener:. Not neccesarily in that order.

Good luck and shoot straight


345 DeSoto
March 14, 2014, 05:22 PM
I started wet tumbling with SS pins/Dawn/Lemi-Shine because cleaning the primer pockets was always a pain and didn't do the job to my matter what method I used. Now, with NO effort, they come out like new unfired. Once I'm done loading, I use the vibratory tumbler/walnut to clean up any "mess" on the outside.

March 14, 2014, 08:34 PM
^^^^^ I use this exact method myself. BUT prefer my 390 AMC Rambler Scrambler engine I have transplanted into my CJ.

March 14, 2014, 09:34 PM
^^^^^ I use this exact method myself. BUT prefer my 390 AMC Rambler Scrambler engine I have transplanted into my CJ.

March 14, 2014, 09:35 PM
I wash, then let dry in the sun on the patio table then rotary tumble my brass with either corn cob or walnut shells. Always on the lookout for a larger rotary tumbler. Would love to have one with a 5-gallon bucket that tumbles.

March 14, 2014, 09:51 PM
2 words, concrete mixer.

March 14, 2014, 10:06 PM
I use a tumbler and a US cleaner. If i get range brass I wash it in the US cleaner to give it a good inspection then tumble in corn cob. I tumble in walnut a few firings and wash my known brass after a couple firings.

March 14, 2014, 10:16 PM
Is the vinegar, salt, soap and water really that bad that no one uses it?

March 14, 2014, 11:37 PM
I use it. Quick, Cheap, and Easy. Some claim that it makes the brass brittle, but I haven't had any problems. Saw a guy post once that he had been doing it that way for over 25 years without any issues.

March 14, 2014, 11:46 PM
IMO, using anything that requires a drying time isn't worth the hassle.

March 14, 2014, 11:49 PM
Ddgarcia05, I have used that method and still do on bad range pickups. Easy effective and cheap.

March 15, 2014, 12:09 AM
I started out with a vibratory tumbler and then just recently switched to a Thumlers Model B with stainless steel pins. It's 100% times better and I'd never go back to a vibratory tumbler. It not only cleans the outside better, but gets the inside and primer pockets squeekly clean too which the vibratory tumbler didn't help with. It does this in half the time as well. The vibratory tumbler also has a ton of dust and is just a mess to deal with. With the Thumler there is no dust at all. The only downside is that it takes a little extra time since you have to deprime the cases if you want the primer pockets clean and then afterwards you have to let the cases dry. That's a small price to pay for the huge increase in performance though. Anyone that tells you a vibratory tumbler is better hasn't used the SS pins.

March 15, 2014, 01:19 AM
Again ... Potato patato... I'm from Louisiana and its taters here ! :D
Personal preference will differ, wet tumble and ss pins are on the one day wish list, I just have a component addiction to feed :eek:
Fords can be nice to drive, I really love the satisfaction of pulling some buddies out of jams with my duramax !:neener:

March 15, 2014, 10:35 AM
Corn Cob Media in a Tumbler for 2 hours.

Dodge is 2nd
Chevy is last resort even after VW:)

March 15, 2014, 10:48 AM
I run a vibratory bowl tumbler with ground walnut. Generally takes 4 hrs. Last week I cleaned some 9mm cases. Put them in the tumbler, turned it on and was going to go turn it off later in the evening. Forgot about it. Next day I went to do some work at the Red Hill International Horse Trials and spent 5 days there. Anyhow those 9's got almost a weeks worth of cleaning and they now almost too pretty to use.

March 15, 2014, 10:53 AM
One dryer sheet with some corn media for a couple of hours works ok for me. Some day I will upgrade to SS pins and that fancy wet tumbler.

No Chevy, Ford or Dodge.. Prefer Harley Davidson! loud pipes say what?

March 15, 2014, 01:18 PM
Ultrasonic doubles as parts cleaner as well, that's why I got mine. You can't polish brass in it, but you can surely clean it.

March 15, 2014, 02:12 PM
5 to 6 DAYS in the tumbler!!!!! And there were still cases left to find? I would almost be worried about case failure, being me I would take some thickness measurements with my calipers for comparison. Bet they sure are the shiniest cases though. Lol.

Jim Watson
March 15, 2014, 02:26 PM
I have stayed with the vibratory tumbler, walnut hull blasting media from the air compressor dealer at $16/50 lb, and a rotary separator.

As said, anything that calls for rinsing and drying is more trouble than I care for.

I do use ceramic or steel pin wet tumbling on black powder brass, but that stuff is really nasty and there is not a whole lot of it, I only shoot BPCR once a month.

March 17, 2014, 09:14 AM
Guess I'll stick with the old vibratory tumbler... I'm all about gadgets but can't see changing from what has always worked fine if it's gonna cost a couple hundred bucks... As always, thanks for the dialogue and education.

And to set the record straight, it's Ford.


March 17, 2014, 11:20 AM
One thing I'm concerned about, living, a I do, in an apartment, is dust containing toxic powder and primer residue and getting airborne around me when handling the tumbler's media. As my range pick-up brass is usually dirty with mud or sand and I wouldn't toss them in that state in my media, the brass always gets a wash with dish soap+hot water+citric acid. When they're dry, they get decapped and get a ultrasonic run, so all the residue gets down the toilet. Only when they're clean and residue free they get in the tumbler for polishing.

It's less time consuming than it appears to. A couple of hours is all what I need to process 350-400 cases of 9 mm this way, and the results pay off. I like the feeling of working with like-new brass.

May 5, 2014, 04:57 PM
I've never used the tumbler, but I bought an ultrasonic cleaner for 50 bucks and couldn't be happier. Capacity is small, and I have to finish with cotton swabs, but for fifty bucks I feel like I got a bargain. Even cleans old coins.

May 5, 2014, 05:44 PM
Nothing beats wet tumble with SS pins/dawn/lemishine. Size and trim brass then wash to clean primer pockets and remove any lube used. Letting hundreds of cases dry beats having to handle each piece of brass to "properly" clean primer pockets. Which everyone needs to ask themselves if they should clean primer pockets, if ever??? Do people clean primer pockets because they are "anal" or do people "justify" not cleaning them because it takes too long etc? :uhoh:

I always dry tumble for 20-30min brass before sending through the size die to get any dirt or any foreign material off.

loose noose
May 5, 2014, 07:37 PM
Prefer my Thumbler's Tumbler (dual containers) using the walnut or corncob media, let it go for about 6 hours and my brass comes out looking like brand new. Also prefer my 350 Chevy Silverado.

May 5, 2014, 07:50 PM
How much walnut or corn cob to brass do y'all use. I've been using four pounds media to one pound of brass with the additives works great about a hour an a half in each just wondering if I can cut down on the media an add more brass

May 5, 2014, 08:07 PM
I'm using SS/dawn/lemishine in a thumler. Started off with walnut and corncob in a vibe, but the insides of the cases weren't coming clean nor were the primer pockets. I ran cases in the dry medium for 4-8 hours, but with the SS wet method they are factory new looking in 2-3. Even brass that was oxidized black from being left out in the weather.
Also, there's no more cloud of dust when I dump the media to sort the brass. I'm sure that stuff isn't healthy to breathe.
I know for a lot of people it doesn't matter, but I really think the clean cases group more consistently for me. YMMV.

May 15, 2014, 06:10 AM
How much dawn, and how much lemishine, and how much water do you put in your tumbler. I have 5 pounds of SS pins. Sorry, I am a newbie (back in it after 35 years). Thanks for your answers.

May 15, 2014, 08:08 AM
I fill the tumbler to about two inches from the top with hot water and use about a tablespoon of dawn and a teaspoon of lemishine. I don't really measure, just eyeball - you don't need an exact ratio.

May 15, 2014, 08:53 AM
I use 50% vinegar and a drop of soap in the ultrasonic cleaner. Dry in rhe summer sun, then vibrate in walnut lizard litter and a few drops of nu-finish car polish. Better than factory new.

Thats for really dirty, or new-to-me brass. Three hours un the vibrator with nufinish is good'nuf otherwise.


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