Dry tumbler, Wet tumbler or UltraSonic?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BLACKFIN, Oct 13, 2020.

  1. BLACKFIN

    BLACKFIN Member

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    Tumblers....:confused:o_O

    when it comes to tumbling cases, i know people use Dry Tumbler, Wet Tumbler and Ultra Sonic to clean the brass. I have the option to pick one up tomorrow and all 3 options are available. In your opinion, Which is the best option to buy?

    1B76BE60-2DD5-4FA7-9DAA-2985836F7F5D.jpeg 6251477F-4A11-4E46-85EE-D0D5FEA2B406.jpeg 06E9EAB6-026D-42A4-B87C-E36E5A608B2B.jpeg

    ETA:

    the brass i have is from an outdoor range and they look like this.

    637928A9-BC4E-40F6-BF9A-706D37BF8DDB.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  2. Scott.M

    Scott.M member

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    My opinion is that I don't bother tumbling, not worth the time or effort. YMMV
     
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  3. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    My experience is only with dry. For 20 years it has worked very well for me. Tumble longer for shinier brass add a little polish and mineral spirits. I use fine corncob and buy it from a sand blasting material supplier, Dillon vibratory tumbler. I have .45 brass thats been loaded 15 times still in service.

    Wet tumbling Gets em cleaner I am sure but involves a longer more laborious process, and is more expensive. Shinier does not necessarily shoot any better.

    I load on progressive presses and I do not tumble after decaping. Rifle I load single stage dry tumbling also and manual primer pocket cleaning.

    I shoot often and reload everything I shoot. Keep it simple stick with dry,
     
  4. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    Every system has pros and cons. Myself and every one I know uses a vibratory dry tumbler. It's an easy system, inexpensive to purchase and operate. The results are fantastic. For the beginner use brass type corn cob medium and a general purpose case polish. You will hear variations of when to polish brass. I for one polish with old spent primers still in the cases. The reason is simple. Clean all the dirt off the brass before running them through your dies. That will keep dirt and grit out of you dies. Then de prime and re-size clean brass.
     
  5. 2011redrider

    2011redrider Member

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    If you use a Universal Decap Die it will not damage your die, and allow the primer pocket to get some cleaning. I decap all my brass with a decap only die and them wet tumble in a Frankford tumbler. Cases come out like new inside and out. Dry tumbling doesn't seem to clean the inside of the cases much. Have seen lots of issues with the HF rock tumbler and ultrasonic. Prime everything with a RCBS bench primer and when its time to load I just remove the decapper, it eliminates any hung up primers on the decp pin too.
     
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  6. Coldfinger

    Coldfinger Member

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    Ultra sonic is a waste of time money effort and just about everything else. Wet tumbler is gonna get you very clean with extra effort and expense. Dry gets that shine. Now plenty will tell us here that wet gets that shine and to an extent it does but fine cob with polish..... shiny. I wet tumble and then dry polish because I like shiny stuff. Will it last longer or shoot better? Nah but it makes me happy. If I had to pick one? Dry with corn cob
     
  7. Bat Rastard

    Bat Rastard Member

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    I have all three.
    I dry tumbled for 30 years.
    I got an ultrasonic a year ago.
    Two months ago I got a wet tumbler.

    If I could only keep one, it would be the wet one. It is faster and cleans better than the dry one

    The ultrasonic gets them very clean, but it does small batches, slowly.

    I find the wet tumbler very effective on large batches of range brass.
     
  8. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    I clean brass with that cheap HF sonicating bath in the OP. I use 1/2 tsp citric acid and 10-15 drops Dawn dishwashing soap in about 2.5L water for ~ 20 minutes per batch of brass. The one batch of solution can be reused 4 or 5 times. It cleans up brass nicely, but don't expect it to look as bright and shiny as new brass. It works well, but still a PITA because of the need to dry the brass. I just set it out on my tailgate in the hot Texas sun. The brass is clean inside/out, but like I said, not sparkling like new brass. No dust to deal with, but I have to deal with my dirty homemade citric acid solution. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
     
  9. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    I was depriming thousands & thousands of gravel pit range brass on my Hornady Lock n Loas single stage press with a Lee Universal decapper Die and ruined press in two years because of the grime getting on the ram and it wore the aluminum houseing away really bad.

    After wet tumbling I will never go back to dry tumbling.
    I also have a Hornady ultrasonic cleaner that just sits on the shelf.

    Wet tumbling takes more time but the benifits out way the time factor.

    Now I wet tumble the brass with just water, a cap of ArmorAll wash & wax, a 1/2 teaspoon of Lemi-Shine and a small squirt of Dawn dish soap.

    Then I deprime, resize. Some times I will tumble it again with the Stainless Steel pins, ArmorAll, Lemi-Shine and Dawn.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  10. BLACKFIN

    BLACKFIN Member

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    What type of lemi-shine? I searched and a few products came up with that brand
     
  11. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    Lemi-Shine Booster. Walmat has it in the dish soap section.
    A little bit goes a long way.
    1/2 a teaspoon or less.
    Walmart.com has a 12oz. container for $3.63.

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    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  12. Sooner1911

    Sooner1911 Member

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    In my opinion, wet tumbling is the only logical choice for range pickup. I dry tumbled for years and it took so long to get really cruddy cases clean that any time penalty for drying is more than offset. Maybe brass doesn't need to be shiny, but I like being able to see the powder clearly, I like the aesthetics, and don't like putting dirty cartridges in a high dollar investment. Wet tumbling is not perfect, but I have not had the pin sticking, case mouth problems, or suffered because of dry time. Most of us have enough empty brass that we do not need to immediately reload the empty brass that we just shot. If that is not the case, it is a different calculation.
    As for the semi shine, I use plain old canning citric acid. It is cheaper and that is what semi shine is providing. When my bottle runs out, I am ordering 5 lbs from Amazon for about $20. That will likely last me until I am old(er) and gray(er). Lots of folks will disagree with me, but that is my experience.

    Regards,

    Kris
     
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  13. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    The small 12 ounce container lasted me about a year for less then $4 and doesn't take up that much room.
    I just bought this larger container of lemi shine a couple of months ago for around $8. It will last me a couple of years..
     
  14. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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  15. dcarr

    dcarr Member

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    I think this is right , the ultrasonic does its best with the small batches which is what I usually have. Cheap Harbor Freight ultrasonic has worked well for me. I still have the old media walnut vibrator in the shed. Do not miss the dust nor the noise pollution. IF i evolve to larger batches I will be looking at the wet tumblers probably
     
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  16. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    First, DO NOT BUY THE HF WET TUMBLER IF YOU'RE CLEANING RIFLE CASES.

    Now, keep reading.

    Dry tumblers I've never used and never will. The media doesn't last forever, it's dirty, and unless you decap before tumbling the lead dust goes everywhere. Maybe it's cheaper than wet tumbler, maybe it's faster, maybe it's nicer that you don't have to wait for the brass to dry, but I don't think it's the best way to go.

    Ultrasonic cleaners work best cleaning parts, but can work with brass, but it works best with large diameter cases like .45's. I have a Hornady and I only use it when I find a variety of empty calibers of all sorts laying around that isn't enough to do in wet tumblers. If I could go back in time I would have bought the Harbor Freight tumbler, it's more rectangular, fits longer parts and such and w/ coupon is quite a bit cheaper than the Hornady.

    I prefer wet tumbling and I have both the dual drum you're looking at and recently picked up a FA Lite from Midway on sale.

    You're probably wondering why do I have two wet tumblers? The reason is the Harbor Freight is not strong enough to do two full drums of brass, the motor used is the same as the single drum model and it causes the RPM's to drop enough to where cleaning isn't as effective as with a larger tumbler. There's also an issue of the HF using a belt drive and not a geared drive, so if you overload the HF and try to tighten the belt to get more power, the belt snaps.

    I have some aftermarket belts that are MUCH better and can take the tightening, but if I tighten to much, the motor stops spinning because it's not strong enough.

    I absolutely do not recommend the HF tumbler if you're doing rifle brass. There's not much space in the drums, you might get 100 pcs in each drum, but you'd be better served with a larger, REAL tumbler. If you're reloading pistol, the single drum HF tumbler is a good entry level wet tumbler. It's the cheapest option and for those who are unsure about loading, just getting into it, I don't blame them for not wanting to blow $150 on a larger tumbler only to discover they don't like reloading.

    I do still use the dual drum HF tumbler for small cases or stuff I don't load much (.32 ACP, 7.62x25) and I like having the two drums because I can do different calibers in each drum and I do keep different size pins in each drum as I've found 9mm length pins will get stuck in the necks of .38, but not .32 and 6mm pins will get stuck in .32's, but not .38's.

    EDIT: As for drying, after I rinse the cases under the faucet in the tub, I've started putting them in an old linen or cotton sheet or old undershirts, wrap the fabric so no cases fall out, and shake the thing around. The cases are drier and waterspots don't form anymore.

    Not that waterspots mean anything, I just don't like the way they look.

    You could also buy a cheap toaster oven or food dehydrator and put the cases in them on low heat for 20-30 minutes. You don't need much heat to dry the cases.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  17. Cokeman

    Cokeman Member

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    I got the single drum Harbor Freight tumbler and steel pins off Amazon. It works great and is easy. I just fill it with water, pins, dish soap, lemi-shine, and brass and run it for an hour. When it’s done, I hold the drum under the tub faucet and let it rinse all the junk out. The pins and brass stay in the drum and the black crap overflows. I then put the brass on a towel overnight to dry. I deprime the brass first.
     
  18. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    No, Yes, No.
     
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  19. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    If your brass is really dirty or tarnished stainless steel pin tumbling would be the way to go. If it's just range pick up an ultrasonic will clean it up.
    Ultra sonics are trickier to run to get the results you want, I will still dry tumble mine to get the water spot off and get some wax on them that I mix with my media.
    Some people that dry tumble take their tumblers outside to empty them so they aren't breathing the contaminated dust and some just don't care.

    I have Lyman's ultrasonic and it does a good job for me. I would buy a name brand ultrasonic over Chinese import because the name brands are made to someone specs and the chinese imports aren't. You don't know if they have the same transducers, what frequency they run at or if they are the same wattage.
    Ultrasonic is the fastest, Stainless steel pin get them the cleanest, and dry tumbling is the slowest.
    With wet cleaning the citric acid also combines with the lead to form a new compound that our bodies can't absorb. So it pretty much renders the lead to a more harmless by-product.
    You have to figure out what will work the best for what you need to do and go from there.
    Even it you decide to wet clean, you still should have a dry tumbler sitting around somewhere for afterwards, most of us do.
    If you want a do-all once and done get the wet tumbler with SS pins. You don't have to use the pins with it but for the worst of the worst, the pins will take care of the problem.
     
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  20. gojones

    gojones Member

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    I wet tumble. Just works better for me than dry tumbling. The ultrasonic is for cleaning my pistols, dies and other parts. Just shake brass in beach towel after tumbling and leave out in the garage for a day. No spots and clean and shinny.
     
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  21. Bat Rastard

    Bat Rastard Member

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    I bought a food dehydrator to dry cases.
    It works fine, but some of the holes in in the trays are larger than 9mm cases. It is annoying.
    If I were starting over, I would buy a dryer from a reloading company. They are purpose built for our purpose.
     
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  22. Bayou52

    Bayou52 Member

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    Been wet tumbling since 2012. Won't go back as the results are too good - brass has a jewelry finish and look.

    Bayou52
     
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  23. dcarr

    dcarr Member

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    i like my dryer
     

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  24. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    The time factor with dry tumbling has been mentioned here. Dry tumbling is 15 minutes of work max. 5 minutes to load the tumbler and turn it on.

    I turn the tumbler on in my shed, and go back in the house. It runs 2-4 hours depending on dirt level and shine desired.

    When its done 10 minutes to empty and bag clean brass I have a rotary sifter to remove corn cob.. No need to rinse, dry, or depin the brass.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
  25. cardinalorange

    cardinalorange Member

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    Everyone I know only dry tumbles, but I'm about to pull the trigger on a wet tumbler. I have to run my dry tumbler outside it creates so much dust, and with unwashed range brass I go through about 5 lbs of media every 20k rounds it gets so dirty (if I don't wash the brass first). Time isn't an issue for me, so I am going to switch to the better cleaning and cleaner setup of wet tumbling I think.
     
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