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Ultrasonic cleaner.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Charlie1022, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Charlie1022

    Charlie1022 New Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Ohio City, Ohio
    I am new to this method of cleaning and need your input on how and why this is the best method to clean cases. Do you size and deprime before you clean? Do you use distilled water or tap water? I did purchase the Lyman case cleaner aditive but have sean other liquids used and want to know what you use. Do you save and reuse the fluid and if so how long can it be reused. I saved my first batch of fluid and ran it through a coffe filter but did not see much of a change in color. Do you also use yours to clean un parts?
  2. Crashbox
    • Contributing Member

    Crashbox Active Member

    Jan 12, 2010
    Lynden, Washington
    I've used ultrasonic cleaning exclusively for the three years I have been reloading. I de-prime my brass prior to cleaning and resize afterward.

    For cleaning solution I use a neutral floor cleaner I get at Costco Business Center (not the regular Costco) and use it at four ounces per gallon, with about two to three teaspoons of citric acid per gallon added. I run them at about 115 degrees Fahrenheit for around six to eight minutes and they come out looking almost brand new. I'm sure many other detergents/cleaners are suitable but AVOID ANYTHING THAT CONTAINS AMMONIA as it will de-zincify the brass and embrittle it. I discard my solution as it is dirt cheap. Tap water is OK.

    The citric acid is most important, it greatly speeds up the cleaning process and it passivates the brass to retard further oxidation/corrosion.

    The main reason I use ultrasonic cleaning is that I had one already in stock prior to taking this hobby up. I wouldn't use anything else now.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  3. Etkini

    Etkini New Member

    Mar 11, 2009
    Southern VT

    This might help you. I haven't looked too much into the Harbor Freight or any other offerings, but I know Hornady is coming out with one next year that's long enough to fit an entire 16" AR15 upper in it. And it only retails for about $700. For me, I'd rather spend that $700 on more components and keep using my tumbler.

    With that said, if I had one I might use it to clean firearm parts. I haven't came across much that can't be fixed by a 15-30 minute soak in some CLP (my AR-15 bolt assembly) that didn't look like new after, though.
  4. john16443

    john16443 Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    Ramona, CA
    Check out this video from Mid-South Shooters Supply.


    For brass, no need to get more than the Hornady Magnum sonic cleaner for just north of $200. This thing is the bomb for a number of reasons.

    1) I can do at least 300 9mm cases or 200 45ACP cases in a single cleaning cycle. 3 liter capacity, holds much more brass than the Thumblers Series B stainless steel system for less money.
    2) The unit has 2 transducers and heats the solution, better cleaning action.
    3) The unit has an adjustable timer you can set up to 60 minutes. No more resetting 480 second cycles to get clean brass.
    4) Uses tap water, Dawn and Lemishine (from Walmart) to clean cases inside and out. The Lemishine adds the citric acid needed for effective cleaning. I use a 2 liter bottle full of water, add 3 tablespoons of Dawn and 1 45ACP case full of Lemishine. Works as good as the Hornady brass cleaner.

    I deprime using a universal decapping die (Lee), dump my cases in and run a 40 minute cycle. I let the solution sit in the unit overnight and then siphon the cleaner portion off the next day. Dump the bottom portion with all the junk in it and reuse the solution at least 3 times. The brass is ready to resize after it dries, and this primer pockets and inside are clean. I like the really shiney brass look, so I towel dry the cases and dump them into a corn cob tumbler for another 40 minutes. Comes out looking like new brass, even the "titegroup powder' stains are gone. Sure beats 4 hours of futzing with the Thumblers stainless steel pins and small container.

    To clean gun parts, get the solution specifically made for that, apparently it's different than the brass cleaning solution. On the other hand, I don't think you'll ruin anything if you just use Dawn and water.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  5. tcj

    tcj New Member

    Aug 25, 2012
    I've only used US (Hornady Magnum w/their solution) and it works great for me.

    I use tap water and a cap full of solution -- fill to capacity (standing for large rifle cartdiges; just dumped in for pistol to the top) -- and let it run for 30 minutes @ 140F.

    Drain, rinse and dry cases with a micro-fiber towel and then air dry.

    BTW, I can run 2 sets of cases before dumping out the liquid.

    Re procedure, I will clean before depriming/resizing so that the cases are clean when they are run through my press (I do everything on a progressive). For rifles, I will clean again after resizing and before trimming.
  6. bodam

    bodam Member

    Jun 21, 2012
    Cypress, TX
    I bought the HF one and it works fine.

    I originally bought it for brass, but I find that adding water to the brass just makes a mess and more work. I typically tumble all my brass now.

    But for cleaning guns, it works great. I typically take 4-5 handguns with me to the range, and cleaning them all up sucks. But dropping the parts in the tub is easy.

    The two downfalls are the short timer, you have to reset it every few minutes. And the cleaner dries the parts out badly. But a good oiling and they are good as new.

    Make sure you have good silicone cloths and they look brand new after a quick wipe down.
  7. BillB204

    BillB204 New Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    N.E. Georgia
    I have been using my USC for about 6 months now for my precision rifle reloading and wouldn't think about any other process. I'm still using my corncob media tumbler for pistol and high volume 223 reloading. When I got my USC, I did an apples to apples comparison between the Hornady solution (supposedly the best) and several "home brews". After numerous different cleanings, I found a home brew solution that cleans literally twice as well as the Hornady and better than the other home brews.

    I de-prime and neck size before cleaning. The USC will completely clean the primer pockets with the right solution.

    A gallon of distilled water, 1/4 cup of Lemi-shine dishwasher detergent (Wal-mart), 3 tablespoons of citric acid (Wal-mart canning dept.), 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. Run brass for 30-40 minutes (or four to five 8 min cycles). Soak and swish in bucket of tap water for a few minutes. Rinse under running tap water for a few min. Soak and swish in bucket of distilled water for a few min. Shake and towel dry. Place in ammo storage case, neck out. Warm air force dry for about ten min with hair dryer or portable space heater. And, if you want a super bright, new case shine, tumble in corncob media with NuFinish for an hour. Cases are clean inside and out and ready for priming and loading. Clean four batches of cases with the same formula.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
  8. the count

    the count Active Member

    Dec 25, 2010
    Anywhere, USA
    Let me be the devil's advocate. Forget the sonic cleaners. I have one, don't use it anymore. Why? I put a gallon of 2 or hot water into the laundry room sink. Add some Tide and a teaspoon of LemiShine. Let stand for 15 or so minutes and then thoroughly rinse and dry. Then off to the tumbler for 1-2 hours with walnut media. I found that the plain old sink method got rid of most of the grime and dirt. Maybe not 'as' clean as with the sonic do-dad but almost as good. For a really nice shine the brass has to go to the tumbler anyway. And by pre cleaning the brass the tumbler media lasts 10 times longer.
  9. rskent

    rskent Participating Member

    May 28, 2006
    The land of blue sky and sunshine
    I like mine a lot. I tumble all my brass to clean it up. On rifle brass after
    sizing and trimming I use the sonic to clean the lube out of the case neck.
    Works great for me.
  10. Charlie1022

    Charlie1022 New Member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Ohio City, Ohio
    Thanks BillB204 for the advise on what you found on your testing. I will stop and bick up the supplies listed and give it a good try.

  11. jim243

    jim243 Participating Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    Me too. If you have one then go to it, if not then save your money.

    A ) They clean cases but do not polish them.
    B ) To me it does not matter if the inside of the case is not shiny, a nylon brush on my case prep center will clean the neck in a short amount of time.
    C ) I am concern what the solutions will do to the life of the case and therefore am uncomfortable about using them.
    D ) It is a messy process.
    E ) Drying times for the wet cases is longer than it takes to tumble them.
    F ) I got fed up having to reset the timer every 3 min.
    G ) I have a small unit and it only holds a small amount of cases.

    I can dump a large number of cases into my tumbler and let it run while I do something else without having to worry.

    Now I do use the sonic cleaner to clean my dies with, it does a great job on them. But for cases i will stick with a tumbler.

    Just my view

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