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cheap reloader - needs Tumbling advice....

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by kellyj00, Jul 12, 2007.

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  1. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    I'm the cheapest of the cheap reloaders and refuse to spend a dime where I don't have to.

    That's why I've got a rock polisher on my reloading bench that I'm using to tumble my 45acp, 9mm and .223 brass. Granted, it doesn't have the volume of a big tumbler, but it was free.

    So, last night I added a handful of wet sand, about 20 45acp cases (deprimed), a splash of white vinegar and a splash of water. I then tumbled this watery mess for about 15 minutes and the brass was clean but not shiny.

    I then dried it all off and added a few handfuls of kitty litter and about 30 still-primed 45acp cases. It cleaned the brass, but again not shiny.

    I've heard of adding car wax to your tumbler to shine up brass. I'm a little concerned how any chemical will react to smokeless powder or if it will weaken the case in some way.

    What household items can I use to cheaply tumble my brass and make it look new again?
     
  2. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Member

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    I use white rice with a very small amount of brasso. I also use an electric ice cream maker I bought for $3 at a thrift store. You paid WAY too much for your "tumbler".
     
  3. RugerBob

    RugerBob Member

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    After I deprime and clean out the primer area, I use a old stocking and put them in the dishwasher. seems to be ok and look shinny to. I let them dry over nite or put them in the oven on low heat(no primers in them).Works for me till I can buy a decent tumbler.
     
  4. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Sometimes cheap is more expensive in the long run. What does a Frankfort Arsenal tumbler cost, about $40? You can clean a whole lot more than 20 at a time, you can use cheap media, it will do the job faster than any rock polisher, and it will continue to work for years. I can't begin to imagine how much of a mess a bunch of wet sand is. I dump my media into a cheap separator, and then back into the tumbler for the next batch.
     
  5. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    White rice is a darned good idea! Wish I would've thought of that.

    Does brasso hurt the powder or primer at all? What about this 'liquid car polish' that I've seen mentioned here a few times?
     
  6. HJ857

    HJ857 Member

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    I use a rock tumbler type of thing too for wet cleaning. Try using lemon juice instead of the vinegar. I use a couple drops of dishwashing liquid and 1-2 teaspoons of the juice for an hour or so, no sand or any other abrasive. Works very well for me.
     
  7. earplug

    earplug Member

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    Tuesday at our local steel target match.
    I was helping A older shooter police up his .45 ACP brass.
    I noticed that he does not tumble his brass, I don't either.
    We don't have problems.
    If its A rainy day match and the clay mud on the brass is bad, I toss it in the kitchen sink with some dish soap.
     
  8. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Don't use Brasso or any other product containing ammonia. Ammonia weakens brass, and you don't want to weaken anything designed to contain thousands of psi.

    Don
     
  9. Texas Moon

    Texas Moon Member

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    Call the local Sandblasting Supply place.
    Sometimes they can get 50lb bags of crushed walnut hull real cheap.
     
  10. rino451

    rino451 Member

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    Crushed walnut (reptile section) from pet store and Nu Finish car wax (probably any car wax for that matter). Then again, just tumble and forget about shiny.

    I use the polish, but after sitting for a while, my rounds look tarnished eventually anyway.
     
  11. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    unfortunately, I want shiny! Ain't I spoiled.
    Actually, it just feels better to make new-looking ammo...that's why I want to shine it up.... but, if it hurts the case to use brass polish then I suppose it's probably a good idea to just do what I've been doing and cleaning them up and leaving it at that.
     
  12. harbinger_j

    harbinger_j Member

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    If you are that cheap why even tumble?
    Does it make the brass last longer?
    Do I need to clean my brass?

    I am a new reloader (Less than 1000 rounds), I just recently received a tumbler (thumbler - for free). I was told it is not necessary, but I wanted to have cleaner rounds to handle and also I like shiny brass.

    Why else should I tumble will the dirty shells wear my dies or magazines?
    I have some walnut media, how many times can I use it before it is used up?
     
  13. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    Good gawsh you take frugal to new heights! :neener:

    First get rid of that sand! This discussion took place here a few months back. Somebody asked if sand would be a good alternative to the real stuff,(corn cob or crushed walnut). My concern is; how can you be certain that you get every last chunk of sand OUT of those cases? You certainly DON'T want any sand in your chamber, or being dragged down the barrel by a bullet.


    I'm all for saving money on things that we use for reloading. That's why I use a lot of surplus powders, and cast my own bullets. But there's some things that just work better than any substitute.

    Brasso contains ammonia. Ammonia is what rifle shooters use to "eat" copper that is fouling their barrels. Cartridge brass is copper and zinc. The ammonia eats,(dissolves) the copper in the brass, weakening it. Now some say that the ammonia evaporates off, leaving only the abrasive, therefore it won't hurt their cases. It only takes one case letting go to ruin your life and a fine gun!

    Polish made for brass tumbling, is specifically made soft enough to polish JUST BRASS! It won't do a thing to chambers, or barrels if some remains in or on the case. Midway has a brass polish made for cartridge cases, so does dillon, Lyman and others. For a long time I used Flitz in my midway,(FA), tumbler. It shined cases like a mirror! But it's expensive, the midway stuff is cheaper.
     
  14. cpaspr

    cpaspr Member

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    I bought a bag (think it was around 5#) of corn cob pet bedding at the local grocery store fairly cheap. Could have found it much cheaper per pound at the local pet store, but in much larger quantity. So I spent fewer $$ for a lesser quantity. However, I've only used enough of it for two tumbler loads - the first load gets the dirty brass, then the second load gets the cleaned brass along with brass polish from Midway. Still using the same two batches of media and have only had to add a small amount of polish to the second batch after thousands of rounds through the tumbler. I doubt I'll use all the pet bedding I currently have in the next ten years.

    I also throw about 4 small pieces of paper towel in with the media to collect the dirt. They only last one load in the first batch before getting filthy, but several loads in the second batch. Helps keep the media cleaner. Some people use dryer sheets, but the brand we use snags too much of the media on the edges of the sheets.

    Rice is softer than corn cob, so you'll probably need to replace it more often. To my way of thinking, that makes the rice more expensive in the long run.
     
  15. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    good advice all! I'm thinking I should probably just get the $50 tumbler....

    as a note, Rice in my parts is about 38 cents per pound. A 5 lb bag of rice is $1.88
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Me too.

    Try Franklin Arsenal brass polish from Midway. It lasts a long time and it, along with corncob media, will make your brass very shiny. I tumble my brass all day while I am at work or all night while I sleep. I've been running my Lyman tumbler for years like that. Throw in a couple of cut up static cling sheets (used ones) from the laundry and they will pick up a lot of the dirt and extend the life of your media.
     
  17. .308 garand

    .308 garand Member

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    I have use a rock tumbler as well. I fill it with enough water to cover the brass , add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and a couple of drops of liquid dishwashing soap. I set this up to tumble over night. In the morning before work I rinse the brass, wipe with towel and place in front of a fan so the inside of the case will dry. By the time I get home I am ready to start resizing and triming. My brass is shinnier than factory new brass. Hope this helps.

    .308
     
  18. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    Oh for pete sake...!!! Buy a damned vibrater tumbler...Cheap is good, but non-productive in this case...
     
  19. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Member

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    Non-productive? Been using this method for years and I have the cleanest, shiniest brass at the range. Works faster than a vib too. Not to mention quieter.
     
  20. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    all good advice! thanks for all the great suggestions!
    I tried the white rice last night...it turned not so white after a few minutes. ;) so it had to be working, but it didn't really leave them shiny.

    I'm going to try out the water/lemon/soap suggestion tonight! very exciting.
     
  21. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Member

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    I've heard many people say brasso is no good for brass, I wonder how much they are using. I use about 1/2 cap full to about 3 lbs of rice. Been doing it this way for many years. I have some 223 brass that I've pretty much lost count of how many times it's been loaded, and some of that has been loaded to some interesting levels. Never saw a single problem.
    I am getting lazy tho'. Last few times I've loaded for the 223 and the 308 I haven't bothered to polish at all. Pistols don't seem to mind.
     
  22. DragonFire

    DragonFire Member

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    If you do a search on brasso you will find this discussed many times. Though some people still doubt it and refuse to use anything with ammonia in it, it has been shown (at least to alot of people's satisfaction) that the very small amount of ammonia for the relatively short period of time the brass is exposed to it will do no harm to your brass.

    While it's true that ammonia will negatively affect brass, it takes a much higher concentration for a prolonged period of time for the brass to be affected.

    Brasso plus a little mineral spirits added to corn cob medium seems to work very well for me, with no ill affects so far.
     
  23. murph50

    murph50 Member

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    I got my tumbler at Harbor Freight on sale for $29 about a 1 1/2 years ago. I get corn cob and walnut shell litter at petsmart. I mix about 80% corncob--20% walnut shell and tumble for 2 hours.Works great for me
     
  24. Geno
    • Contributing Member

    Geno Member

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    You frugal guys use "alternatives" in the bathroom too, or have you finally stepped up to just one square in the bathroom too? :evil: Get the cleaner already. Clean and shiny cases reload easier, and feed/extract easier. :banghead:
     
  25. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Member

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    What is this "bathroom" you speak of?
     
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