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Cleaning brass without a tumbler?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Thrash1982, Dec 23, 2003.

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  1. Thrash1982

    Thrash1982 Member

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    Do any of you use something other than a case tumbler or vibrator to clean your brass? I just bought a large bag of .40 S&W and it's pretty dirty. I do have about 300 rnds already sized and primed. Would there be any harm in tumbling this as well?

    Thanks all
     
  2. Corey ACP

    Corey ACP Member

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    Don't tumble any brass that has been reprimed. The little kernals of grit will get stuck in the flash hole and could cause misfires or worse, a hangfire. If they are that bad, throw them in the tumbler and treat them like regular fired brass. Of course it means you will have wasted the 300 or so live primers, but real dirty brass will damage the insides of your reloading dies. IMO it is cheap insurance.
     
  3. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    Load and shoot the primed brass, then worry about it.

    The fired brass can be cleaned in some hot water and Tide laundry soap, just soak for a bit and swirl around occasionally, you can stir it in a bucket with a toilet brush and it will help clean a little faster. Rinse in HOT water a couple times, then pour the water out and then spread the brass on a towel to dry for a couple days. If you need it ASAP you can put some in the oven at 200* for an hour.
     
  4. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I wouldn't tumble primed brass for the reasons Thrash1982 mentioned; I do, however, occasionally tumble finished rounds, and have been doing so for years without problem.

    It's possible to soak dirty brass in soapy water for a day or two, then wash it just like dishes, then rinse it well, then let it dry another day or two. I met a guy years ago who was too cheap to buy a tumbler, so he washed it by hand. His brass looked all right, but I don't know how clean the insides of the cases were.
     
  5. Dave R

    Dave R Member

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    You can clean it by hand...wipe it with a cloth. I wouldn't add anything to the cloth for fear of contaminating the primers. That'll get off most of the crud which would otherwise abrade your dies or your chamber.

    I just bought a tumbler for $6.

    OK, it was an old electric ice cream maker. But take out the "blades", lay it on its side, and it'll do the job.

    I am one cheap guy.

    BTW, they're right, don't tumble primed brass.
     
  6. Thrash1982

    Thrash1982 Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys. I decided to go with the bucket, laundry detergent and toilet brush idea. Worked pretty good. The outsides are much better and while the insides aren't spottless they are quite a bit cleaner. Once they dry I'll get em loaded up. As you say I will leave the primed brass alone and clean it next time.

    Thanks again guys
     
  7. Publicola

    Publicola Member

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    Birchwood-Casey makes a chemical solution for cleaning cases. You mix 2 cups with 2 quarts of hot water. Then you let the cases (unprimed of course) soak for 3 minutes. Then you take out the cases, rinse them off & dry them.
    Much mre convenient (at least for me) than operating a tumbler. & it'll do a much better job of cleaning your cases than detergent. & the cool part is the mixture is reusable. I bought a bottle about a year ago & I'm still not half way through it. BTW, they run around $8 a bottle.

    I use it after I size, that way I get all the sizing lube off the bottleneck cases, but straight walled cases like the .40 I might use before I size if they're that dirty.

    Just ask about it wherever you pick up your reloading gear. They should have some. If it comes down to it though, I believe Midway & Brownell's carries it.

    For the already primed cases, I'd just take a paper towel & wipe 'em down real good. 'Fraid that's all you can do with the primer in the case.

    One word of caution though - if the cases are real dirty always wipe them down inside & out before you put them through your sizer. Odds are slim that a hunk of dirt will score your die but better to take a few minutes & be certain than to tell your friends about how a small piece of rock damaged your die cause you didn't wipe out your cases.
     
  8. WyrTwister

    WyrTwister Member

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    I put dirty range brass in boiling soapy water & stir , stir , stir ......


    Then rinse , rinse , rinse .............



    Then let dry .


    God bless
    Wyr
     
  9. NavajoNPaleFace

    NavajoNPaleFace Member

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    Publicola, are you reading the Birchwood-Casey cleaning solution directions correctly?

    Mine (super concentrated) says 2 oz. to one quart of water. I'm just checking to give you a heads up, if needed if you are truly using 2 cups of B-C. It might be another form of B-C solution although I haven't seen another.

    Although I like B-C solution because it doesn't leave a greasy or waxy film like Frankford Arsenal added to tumbler mix (which should be wiped off before going to the die) you will want to tumble brass soaked in B-C IF the brass is really, really dirty and IF you want a shinier case.

    Although I'm confidant that the B-C solution by itself gets rid of die damaging grit and dirt I prefer to tumble my cases afterwards. I can see any cracks, etc. in the brass if it's shiny versus a dull brass appearance.


    The B-C solution is cheap...around $7 a 16 oz. bottle around here but I find it pays for itself because the solution can continue to be used on subsequent batches if the solution is not too dirty.

    Also using the B-C before tumbling extends the life of the tumbler medium keeping it from becoming dusty and dirty from abrasion with gritty material.
     
  10. 50 Shooter

    50 Shooter member

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  11. NavajoNPaleFace

    NavajoNPaleFace Member

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    50 Shooter,

    Thanks for the link. I noticed they also have boat cleaning products, too...cool!!!!!!!

    I'll have to check 'em out.
     
  12. Publicola

    Publicola Member

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    NavajoNPaleFace,
    You are correct. I should have type 2 oz. instead of 2 cups & I should have typed 1 quart of hot water instead of 2. I really gotta stop typing when people are cooking in my house. lol

    But I have always gotten good results from just using the B-C mix w/o tumbling. The cases come out nice & shiney & I never felt the need for them to be any more shiney. The main thing I'm concerned with is getting all the powder residue out of the inside & any dirt off the outside.

    But thanks for the correction as I would have missed it.
     
  13. NavajoNPaleFace

    NavajoNPaleFace Member

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    Publicola,

    You're right...B-C is some good chit, man.

    It's concentrated, goes a long way, inexpensive, easy to use, no dangerous or caustic chemicals, cuts down on the need for case wiping and reusable (to a certain extent).

    I think, at some point, I've used almost every method and make I can think of and I keep coming back to B-C.
     
  14. rob_helms

    rob_helms Member

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    Here's a recipe I got from a 1957 NRA article.

    1 Pint water
    1 cup white vinegar
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 teaspoon dish detergent

    Deprime cases first, wash in this solution for about 10 min. Rinse 10 minutes. Dry well in sun, oven etc. This works well, I used it for years until I bought a tumbler. If you ever go over to the dark side and load black powder it works well for cleaning cases used with it too.
     
  15. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Aw yes, there's a less expensive way! :uhoh:

    Take an old Folger's coffee can, fill half way or so with
    corn cob media; and dump in approximately 150-200
    spent brass casings. Replace the lid securely
    and turn the work over to any tiny tot's in the house. (LOL)

    After they get through playing with it for about a week,
    you should have some very clean brass.

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
     
  16. NavajoNPaleFace

    NavajoNPaleFace Member

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    For those interested, the attached pic is one of 225 Sig .357 cases I just did with the Birchwood-Casey and a three hour tumble with Lyman's impregnated with jeweler's rouge.

    BTW: the cases WERE fairly dirty and blackened.
     

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  17. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I always de-prime before I tumble, that way the flashhole gets cleaned too.

    Before I had a "real" trumbler, dad stole my gemstone tumbler.. burned out the motor and you could only do 20 or so 30-06 shells at a time, he then rigged a belt and pully onto my tumbler, with a new motor... before we discovered Midway etc sold large volume tumblers.

    http://www.4facets.com/tumbler.html

    Kind of like one of those, rubber tumbler body, watertight seal.

    Wipe 'em off, load 'em, shoot 'em.

    Don't be in such a rush next time.
     
  18. OEF_VET

    OEF_VET Member

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    I just cleaned about 600 pieces of .45 ACP brass in dishwater, drying them in a 200 degree oven for about 12 minutes. They are quite a bit cleaner. They didn't completely dry though, so I'm letting them air dry for awhile before I proceed with depriming them.

    Thanks all for the tip. I was going to wait to start reloading them until I could afford a tumbler. Now I can start reloading some rounds until I can save enough for that tumbler.

    Frank
     
  19. sm

    sm member

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    Ala Dan, reminded me...
    Old farmer kept and saved Pecan hulls , toss this media with brass into a big coffee can or such, secure lid, and let it vibrate on the tractors, combines and such. It actually works! [ Just had to ask one day why all the equipment had these "containers". He finally got a tumbler...still kept using the old method as well...Harvest time...
     
  20. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Hey-Hey-Hey sm,

    that just goes too show us "baby boomer's" that
    you just can't beat common sense, Garrett's snuff,
    Liberty overall's, and grandpa's old rusty, but trusty
    thirty-thirty! :D

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
     
  21. sm

    sm member

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    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    :D
    Yep, Hill's Bro's coffee cans, John Deere Combines and Ford Tractors...Tuff Nutt too...thutty thutty and old model 12 ( for the stuff that flushes ya know ;) ) Now that explains why I have to get away from the city and visit my farm friends...Humm...gotta a bunch of 45ACP brass sitting here...might have to it give a go myself...not much planned for the next couple of days...been saving my pecan and walnut hulls...:)
     
  22. SteelEye

    SteelEye Member

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    Toss in the laundry

    May sound weird but I did this for a while until I got a tumbler. Bought a garment bag and threw in about 300-500 rounds of fired 45 ACP cases. Did them with the regular wash so they wouldn't get dented. Took the bag out and put it in a sunny window until the cases were dry. Cases were clean and shiny but still stained. No dents.

    Did my wife mind? No. Half the rounds were hers.
     
  23. BEARMAN

    BEARMAN Member

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    You can clean stained and dirty range brass with KOOL-AID, use the small packet in about 2 qts of hot water ,no sugar, put a lid on it and shake, let sit for a couple of hours if not so dirty ,much longer if much dirtier. It's the CITRIC ACID in the KOOL-AID that does the work. I have dried the brass in the electric cloths dryer using a "shoe drying attachment on the door of the dryer" with the brass in disposable aluminium pans.
     
  24. Okiecruffler

    Okiecruffler Member

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    I thought I was cheap, but some of you guys are in a whole new league. I'm tempted to try the ice cream maker, but how does the ice cream taste afterwards?
     
  25. WhoKnowsWho

    WhoKnowsWho Member

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    I'm so glad my wife bought me a vibratory cleaner! :D

    I was cleaning brass one by one with a drill and some green scrour pads, they were good on the outside, not so good on the inside... but heck, I made it through a pretty good amount of brass this way!
     
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