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Ultrasonic Cleaning AND Tumbler

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by AK Gun Man 88, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Well-Known Member

    I have ordered both an Ultrasonic Cleaner and Vibratory Tumbler (should be here Tuesday). I have reading alot about both. I am trying to decide on the order of cleaning.

    1. Some say tumble to clean with walnut, fl size and deprime, ultrasonic clean to remove lube, then tumble to polish (and dry) in corn cob. This seems like a great way to do it.

    2. Others have said Ultrasonic then fl size and deprime, then tumble in corncob to polish.

    3. Others have also said tumble to polish first. FL size and deprime. Then US clean to remove internal residue and case lube.

    With method 3, does it tarnish the polished brass or is it unaffected?
    Does US or tumbling remove case lube faster and more efficiently?
    If you do both US and tumbling, which method is working best for you?

    Thanks everybody.
  2. tding

    tding Well-Known Member

    I use both an ultrasonic and vibratory tumbler. I am still experimenting with various acidic solutions for the ultrasonic which will leave some tarnish but it sure cleans the inside of the case and the primer pocket. After neutralizing the acid solution with a short soak in H20 + baking soda and drying throughly I clean (in walnut) or polish (in corncob) depending on the mood I'm in. If I'm bored I may do both finishing up with almost like new brass.
  3. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member


    I deprime, and then ultrasonic, and then tumble to pollish. You will get a majority of the crud out of the primer pockets with the US, and allow the solution to penetrate the entire case as you will have no trapped air. You will want to polish in your tumbler and I add some car polish to the media and run for a few minutes before I add the brass. You only need a cap full or so and it is cheap. Your brass will look great. These are my results. Hope this is what you needed....


  4. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    Use a universal de-primer since the brass will not be clean.

    I use hot (>150F) citric acid in my US cleaner, neutralize with backing soda mix then rinse.

    I only use the US to clean about every 3-4 firing. Otherwise I just use the corncob to clean/polish.
  5. CMV

    CMV Well-Known Member

    My usual pattern is kinda labor intensive for cleaning, but since the machines really do most of the work it isn't so bad.

    I tumble in fine walnut for an initial cleaning.

    Then FL resize (which decaps)

    Then in the US cleaner for three 8 min cycles with the heat on. I use hot tap water, a pinch of Lemishine, & a small squirt of regular Dawn. I stir after the first two 8 minute cycles. I rinse with regular tap water.

    I sit them out to dry or hit with the air compressor if in a hurry.

    Then back into the tumbler with treated fine walnut - or - I load from there & tumble the finished rounds in fine walnut - either way, they get tumbled again. the second tumbling gets rid of water spots & discoloration from air drying.

    I don't bother neutralizing the acid or using distilled water or anything else for the US cleaner. If that was the only cleaning I did, I'd put some extra effort into it for the best results, but really I'm trying to get the inside decently clean and the primer pockets very clean. This step with the US means I don't have to touch primer pockets unless I need to swage a military crimp. It also gets the case lube off & removes any traces from the inside. I don't get lube in my walnut - which may not matter but I'd assume it extends its life somewhat.
  6. jmorris

    jmorris Well-Known Member

    I tumble in stainless steel wet, load, then tumble in corncobb to knock off the lube.
  7. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Well-Known Member

    Thanks everybody for your responses. Mike, those look real good. What kind of solution are you using in the US?
  8. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    That is Lyman US solution. It came with the cleaner. It also came with solution for guns, and it worked great as I had some 100 year old guns that needed a good cleaning and was the reason I bought the US. Just a bonus it works great on brass as well.
  9. Ares45

    Ares45 Well-Known Member

    I own a crest ultrasonic and wouldn't even think of using it to clean brass. Too much work. How much brass? 200 rounds of 5.56 and that tank starts looking awfully small. Perfectly clean and usable brass = vibratory tumbler. If you want to be anal about it then go wet with stainless steel.
  10. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    I was thinking the same thing. Even though my big ultrasonic is 1.5 gallons, one good day at the range with my M1A and it would be swamped.

    I would go stainless steel pins in a rotating tumbler before I used my ultrasonic.
  11. CMV

    CMV Well-Known Member

    But at 24-minute cycles, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time even with the small capacity. Plus you get very clean primer pockets.

    Not for everyone I guess, but it works. Before I got a tumbler all I had was the HF US cleaner. Got the job done.
  12. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Well-Known Member

    I looked at going stainless...but at $270 for the kit and the big killer...shipping...roughly $100 to where I live...I decided to go US and Tumbler (got free shipping on both, thank you Amazon, and only paid $170 total )
  13. Rodentman

    Rodentman Well-Known Member

    I decap in universal die.
    I clean in Ultrasonic.
    I resize.
    I tumble in dry media.

    Thinking of going to the wet SS method, but I need to get a sink installed in my basement first. After that, it will be a LOT easier. Sink on the same level is essential.

    OTOH I watched the video on the SS process. Seems like a lot of work, and my brass is pretty darn good looking using my present method. I don't really care that the insides are not clean. If the primer pockets are dirty I just buzz them out on the case prep unit.
  14. codefour

    codefour Well-Known Member

    I have to admit, the Ultra Sonic cleaner before tumbling does make some gorgeous looking brass. I got one as a gift at X-mas this year. After the US, I let em dry and tumble in corncob with NUfinish car polish. The inside and outside are like polished jewelry when you are done.

    It also works wonders on gun parts..!
  15. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    Large auto's and smaller fit perfect in my Lyman. I only put brass in after a 3 or more loads, but it works great. Have no experience with the SS cleaner so no help there.

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