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Oooh! Found out a way to clean media

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by GLOOB, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    I'm using Lyman tumbling media and a Berry's Tumbler. I have become a bit disappointed in the lifespan of this media, even though I have taken to prewashing the brass before tumbling. The dust just builds up and then the brass no longer comes out shiny.

    I found lots of good suggestions on this forum to combat this - adding dryer sheets, cotton balls, or cut up shop towels. I didn't have either, but I did have some scraps of split grain leather. It's the kind that is rough on both sides.

    I cut it into little strips. Then added a twist. Soaked them in a bowl of water. Then add to the tumbler with the lid open. As they dry out and coat with green/black dust, pluck them out, rinse in the water, and drop them back in. The bowl of water quickly turned black. The next day, the water evaporated and there was a thick layer of dust on the bottom of the bowl. The tumbler bowl was also nice and clean after this, with little dust.

    Then when your media is nice and clean, you can revitalize it by loading the strips with buffing compound. I used the green, chromium compound, which seems like that's what lyman uses to begin with.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  2. 918v

    918v Well-Known Member

    That's alot of work.
  3. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    For what I spend on media from DrillSpot and some left over liquid car polish using a teaspoonfull to start with, trying to clean it isn't cost efficient.

  4. leadaddict

    leadaddict Well-Known Member

    I like it. I'm fairly new to reloading and haven't done enough volume to dirty my media up to much yet. But I may just try this soon. If there's one thing I've learned about most who reload it's that efficency (cost or otherwise) isn't normally the goal! (and it's almost never the result) :) YMMV :)
  5. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    You don't have paper towels? They work too. You could also go to the local laundromat and dumpster dive there :).
  6. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    Well, I'm not really worried about the cost of this method. All I use up is the water, and that's free. As for time, I don't see it as any more time consuming as putting dryer sheets in there or paper towels. Just that instead of tossing them, I rinse them and put them back in. I bet a cheapo synthetic shammy cloth would last a long time, too. FTR, I tried this, initially, with cotton pads. They worked ok, too, but they sorta just got stuck on the bottom when wet until they thoroughly dried out. The leather strips keep rotating in the tumbler, and they can be snatched out periodically for rinsing if you want to thoroughly clean the media.

    I make enough garbage, already. Carrying trash bags to the dumpster isn't the best part of my day. Kitty litter is dirt cheap, too. I don't change it every day, but not because I'm cheap. It's because I'm lazy. Carrying bags of litter and media from the store back to my house is also a pain. I suppose I should start having this stuff delivered, but that still doesn't take care of the garbage problem. :)
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  7. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    I'm lucky, we have house to house garbage P/U.

    And the media from DrillSpot is shipped to my door w/free shipping. Approx $25.00 for a 40 lb. bag.

    I don't expend much effort getting media or getting rid of it either for that matter.
  8. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Just buy a big bag of walnut shells from your big box pet store for about 10 bucks and replenish as necessary - it is real cheap
  9. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    DITTO! I've cleaned a LOT of 9mm cases and still have 2/3 of my 40# left.
  10. codefour

    codefour Well-Known Member

    I am not trying to sound rude. You would rather rinse leather and ring it out rather than just dumping the media and putting fresh in..? drillspot.com media is as cheap as it gets.!

    I tumble a TON of DIRTY brass. In the area of 20,000 to 30,000 cases a year. I know when it starts to get that certain, dirty color tone, I know it is time to dump it. I think dumping it would be easier than putting knotted leather strips in and cleaning said strips. A forty pound bag of 20/40 for 26.00 dollars (delivered) per year is not being lazy. And how much does your Berry's tumbler really hold, three or four pounds? I think the Lyman is somewhere aroung three to four dollars a pound? I, and others, are just saying, there may be a better way...
  11. Fishslayer

    Fishslayer Well-Known Member

    When the polish starts getting a bit thick throw in a dollop of mineral spirits & shake it up.
  12. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member


    I get it. Media is cheap. The problem with media for me is I want super shiny brass. But I don't want to throw away "ok" media after just a couple runs just cuz my brass isn't coming out perfect. I also can't run my tumbler overnight, because I don't have an outlet outside. I have to keep my door cracked, so I have a noise issue and a security issue. So I can't wait around for hours for mediocre media to do its job, cuz I have x number of batches more to go! I also can't stand it when all my brass comes out in slightly different finishes, cuz of how fresh the media was.

    So then I start trying to sort my media into grades. I have the "ok" stuff for the initial tumble. Then I keep the good stuff for my final polishing. But I also found that prewashing the brass works even better than an initial "dirty" tumble. So now I have way too much going on in a small space. And I have tons of perfectly ok media building up and going through my good media way too fast. And it's such a pain to do a prewash and two runs, I don't even want to tumble my brass anymore, at all. So I let my brass sit around, and I don't want to deal with it.

    So no, it's not an issue for me to sit next to my tumbler for 5 min in a comfortable chair getting some sun and fresh air every once in awhile when my media isn't up to snuff. It's relaxing, picking up strips of leather out of my tumbler, squeezing them in a bowl of water, and then dropping them back in. And it's not a cost thing that I don't use dryer sheets or whatnot. I think the water should clean out the dust faster and better. If you're going to wet it, then cleaning and reusing the same strips makes sense to me. Then I can toss the dirty water on my back patio, put out my cigarette, and go back inside. To me this is a lot more satisfying, somehow, considering it's all happening while my cases are tumbling. Compared to sifting out that batch of brass, cleaning the tumbler, changing the media, and tumbling the same brass, again, it's a win to me. I'm not talking a bowl full of knotted leather strings. Just 8 rectangular 1/2" by 4" patches.

    What's the best way to clean anything? WATER. But in this case, the water stays in one bowl, the media in the other. The cleaning strips transfer just the dirt without overwetting the media. The damp strip initially gets stuck all over with media. But if the media is dusty, it only takes once or twice around, and the dust coats it. The media no longer sticks to it, at all. Pluck, dunk, and repeat. This is just so elegant, compared with adding polish to trap the dust. Then more and more dust and polish (abrasives and gunk) gets into the media and doesn't come back out.

    I'm not squeezing the very last life out of my media. I'm making it work super well for longer. Hopefully, indefinitely. I ran four full batches that day, with recently changed media. The first came out pretty nice. Each successive run after that was noticeably worse. The last one was perfectly loadable, but esthetically unacceptable. After 5 min of cleaning, it came out better than the first one!

    But once the mineral spirits evaporate, then isn't the stuff still in there? You added more polish cuz the media was getting dusty with primer dust and dirt. Then it got gunky. Now you dissolve the gunk, but you still have all that dust, again.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  13. Bovice

    Bovice Well-Known Member

    I've followed the shiny brass rainbow too, but haven't found any glistening pieces of brass yet.

    I just settle for "good enough". It isn't filthy and won't rub off on my fingers, but it isn't like a box of rare coins either.

    If I want shiny brass to show off, I use nickel-plated. Cheating? So what? Look at that shine!
  14. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    GLOOB good find for dust removal.:) I got sick of the dust and lucked onto a used inexpensive Thumlers rotary tumbler after years of using vibrator type units. The total setup cost less than $60 with SS media and Dawn/Lemmyshine included. Slightly more hassle than the other way but the brass looks like new EVERY time inside and out as well as being washed when done. There are those that say that it is too much work but I learned a long time ago that anything worth doing was not a free lunch. Simply stated "More effort = superior results". This is a no brainer IMHO.:D
  15. codefour

    codefour Well-Known Member

    Drillspot.com media (20/40 corncob), a teaspoon of Nu Finish car polish and tumbled for 12 to 24 hours in my Thumlers tumbler. They come out looking like jewelry.
  16. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    The great thing about this hobby of reloading is that there is a way for everyone to participate at all budget and interest levels. Not to mention levels of attention to minute detail.

    Me? I'm a 'plenty close enough' kind of guy and use a mix of corncob/walnut, used dryer sheets and a little bit of liquid car polish in my lamp timer controlled tumbler.

    Getting a 'sparkling' shine on my brass holds no interest for me, but different strokes.
  17. johnjr22

    johnjr22 Active Member

  18. Glock XIX

    Glock XIX Member

    Economics 101 = supply and demand. Word has spread about how well the cob media works , therefor demand has driven up prices. Supply side has gone down because all the tree huggers demand we use Ethanol and wean off the oil teet.
  19. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Well it finally went up a few percentage points over the last number of months, it held the $25 dollar range for a number of years. Notice how many percentage points your gas bill has gone up over the last 24 months?

    Regarding washing the leather strips, be sure to use COLD water to keep your skin pours closed and clean up throughly after. Media is loaded with lead compounds all ready to be absorbed. Might be a good idea to get your lead levels tested to get a base line.
  20. hang fire

    hang fire Well-Known Member

    Ditto on that. Local Petsmart wanted to know what kind of snakes I had? They were surprised when told them what I did with it. Told them they should put a "Tumbling Media For Reloaders" sign in the window.

    Another use I have found for it is as a flux when casting boolits, works better than sawdust.

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