Hard water issue with wet tumble

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Tw12321, Aug 9, 2022.

  1. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    I know there are 100+ threads on wet tumbling vs dry etc etc and while I have browsed through a lot I’m still struggling mainly with the drying process, mostly because the quantity I’m trying to do is not viable to hand towel method. Hoping to figure out the wet tumble in bulk like this as I really don’t want to have to do multiple wash/dry/polish cycles and hoping to perfect single wet tumble.

    my process:
    Using a cement mixer.
    About 60 pounds of brass
    60 pounds of stainless steel chips
    4-5 gallons of water
    Shake or two of lemi shine
    1-2 second dish soap squirt

    brass is pristine in about 20-30 minutes. Looks damn near new. I generally do 1-2 rinse buckets for a few minutes after draining the ultra soapy sud water.


    this is where the problem starts.

    I generally separate the media by dumping media and cases into a 5 gallon with a shaker on top, shake out the chips etc. Once all separated I throw them on the drying table and try to agitate a bit to get more water out. Impossible to get it fully dry by just agitating or shaking. Sure I can put a towel on top to agitate but it’s only marginally better.

    From there the stains etc begin….

    I am assuming the outside hose water is way too hard I think, I get the worst water spot stains with outdoor hose. I have been filling water bucket from inside the house, it’s better but still possibly too hard as drying on a stainless steel mesh drying table in the FL sun or putting it on baking sheets and into the oven both still have blemishes. On drying table you get standard spots. On baking sheet you get markings from where they sit on the baking sheet.


    I had a few ideas but looking for more.
    first: Is there a recommended solution to add to my water to make sure it’s super soft? This is obviously a pain in the ass still but if it stops the issue it’d be worth it. I have purchased a hose inline rv filter that’s supposed to help but havnt used it yet.

    second idea: a) attaching a vibrating motor to the drying table to try to shake off as much water as possible during the drying process. Drying table is made of 2x4s and ss mesh so really not sure how well it will work.

    b) getting a vibrating linear screen. Seems like there are some smaller Chinese ones that might be meant for grain processing. Wondering if I run a bucket of wet brass through a few times, it will vibrate off as much water as possible and also catch any left over SS chips and separate. Ss chips aren’t that cheap so figure it would be added benefit. To make sure I separated as much as possible. Granted I’m looking at 500-1500 bucks for something like this so hard to say if it will vibrate enough of either the water or SS or turn into a waste of money.

    C) last idea is to Jerry rig some sort of fan set up or top lid with fans in them to put on top of the drying table to try to push water off and through the ss mesh bottom of the table. Think server fan set ups drilled onto a piece of plywood with cut outs


    Anyways not super confident which way to go. Hoping someone has some ideas to add or confirm any of these. Becoming massively annoying to have to re-tumble etc when dry goes too poorly on a batch. Thanks for your help
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
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  2. MakBaba

    MakBaba Member

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    That's a lot of brass to process. After separating the pins, I dump the brass onto a towel, then grab both ends hammock style and roll the brass around from end to end. This gets the outside of the case dry in less than a minute. You would have to do this a few times, with a few towels, but I'm betting you can do the entire 60 lbs. in about 15 minutes.
    That's what I would do.
     
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  3. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    Yea potentially will work and what I will probably have to do for time being. Would like something a little less involved though
     
  4. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Maybe try a rinse with dish detergent spot eliminator.
     
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  5. Cheesemaker

    Cheesemaker Member

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    New or used cement mixer? - uncured cement is nasty, not sure about cured in a "tumbler"
     
  6. jags

    jags Member

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    Mesh bags and spin cycle on washing machine.
     
  7. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    Never used cement In it
     
  8. eddiememphis

    eddiememphis Member

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    Are you sure the water spotting is from minerals in the water?

    You may be using too much soap and it is not rinsing clean. Two seconds of squirt time is a lot.

    Try using just the dishwasher detergent. Soap breaks the surface tension of the water, allowing it to get deeper into the crud you are trying to remove. The media is a scrubber to remove the tough stuff.

    With the mechanical action, a lot of soap is not needed.

    By using both dish soap and dishwasher detergent, you are double soaping your water.

    Dawn is formulated much differently than Cascade. You never put the first in a machine or you'll be cleaning suds for hours. Dishwasher detergent usually has rinse agents to eliminate water spotting and doesn't produce much foam.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
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  9. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    Have tried varying amounts of soap from very little to too much. Think I kinda found the sweet spot but I would say it’s on the not a lot side. And not sure on the dishwasher detergent. I was under the impression lemishine was a soap/grime booster opposed to actual soap. I have assumed water Bc I was seeing muuuuch worst spotting with the outdoor faucet opposed to indoor water which I believe there is a filter under the sink for.
     
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  10. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    This is an interesting idea. Will give it a try. Have a top loader thankfully
     
  11. Yankee1986

    Yankee1986 Member

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    Not sure it's cost effective but if you're sure its the water, why not buy some distilled or deionized water and see if it cures your problem.
     
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  12. 08JK

    08JK Member

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    I would give the hose end filter a try. Armor All used to make a set-up for washing cars to eliminate water spots, it was basically the same, a filter for the hose. It works pretty well.
     
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  13. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    Might make sense to try it on a smaller batch once to see as well. Maybe need more than a bucket or two to rinse. Will def try to rinse more with this inline hose filter. It’s a real shame Bc the chips and wet tumble come out looking so great then just instantly go down hill.
     
  14. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    Auto wash/wax products have some sort of anti-spotting stuff in it, maybe try that, tumbling AND in the final rinse water.
    I keep a gallon jug of water heavily dosed with Armoral wash/wax and use it as a FINAL rinse for tumbled brass.
    I just pour it back into a gallon jug to be used over and over.
    That "wax/soap" keeps the cases from tarnishing and works as a lube during re-sizing.

    And if suds-ing while tumbling is of concern, adding a small amount of fabric softener will knock it down.
    jmo,
    .
    Edit: What I have posted here is something I've done and got clean shiny brass without water spots, not just an idea or something brainstormed or something that might work.
    :scrutiny:
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2022
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  15. Metal God

    Metal God Member

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    Rinse with hot water or mock up a refrigerator water filter or other to the hose . Are you using hot water to clean . I like the idea of using the new finish or the like dishwasher rinse aid .
     
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  16. Tw12321

    Tw12321 Member

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    I have tried some hot recently but generally luke warm/room temp. As it’s 90+ degrees and with all the stainless steel/brass friction, the water that comes out when draining is generally pretty warm to hot no matter what I start with it seems
     
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  17. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    I would first try to determine if you’re seeing hard water mineral spots on the brass, or, a galvanic reaction between two dissimilar metals: brass and whatever metal trays/racks you’re using (plus some acidity). I had that happen with some racks I’ve been using and first try to get the brass dry on a towel.
    I’ve found additional uses for my back pack leaf blower, perhaps you could employ one if you can sufficiently contain the brass in a net or something that would prevent it from blowing all over the place.
    A water filter won’t solve the hard water issue, it would need to be treated with a softener or RO filter, but I agree that dishwasher rinse aid may help drying. Let us know what you come up with! That’s a lot of brass.
     
  18. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Sounds like the horror of water spots!

    Is you outside water city water or on a well? The minerals will leave spots. Where I live we have excellent city water but also have outside irrigarion (reclaimed water) If you wash a car with it or sprinklers get on you car, it leaves spots everywhere

    Try adding some vinegar to your rinse water or buy some Rinse Aid Jet Dry

    https://www.finishdishwashing.com/products/rinse-aids/jet-dry-hard-water/8-45/
     
  19. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    The water at my house is just this side of chewable, it is very hard.

    There is a product called lemi shine, the wife has to use it in the dish washer, thing is if you have any glasses that have anything on them it will flat take it off. Had some John Deere glasses with pictures of different tractors on them....they are plane clear glass now.

    I am not sure if this will work, I use the old way still because I know my water sucks. I have a water cooled compressor for my air rifles, that gets distilled water, but you don't go through it like you will doing your brass.

    If your water is really horrid and this lemi shine will not work you might just be stuck unless you do a water soft system of some kind for your house....and that put salt in take salt out has baggage as well.
     
  20. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    Try some Calgon in your water. It is what the mobile vehicle washer services use around here to prevent water spotting. It might not work but it would cost you little to see if it does. You might also try Cascade dishwasher pods. My well water is a little hard and leaves spots on anything that it air dries on. Our glasses come out of the washer sparkling clear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2022
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  21. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    Try Auto wash and wax instead of dish soap.
    For the amount of brass your are doing I would say start at about 4oz - 6oz of wash and wax, to much wastes some but otherwise no harm no foul, not enough and things don't get clean.
    It was made to prevent water spots on cars.

    I have used 4 or 5 flavors but seem to use Turtle the most because it seems to be on sale more often.
    Armour All, Mothers, and 2 or 3 others I don't remember.
    Make sure it is Wash and Wax not just wash.

    Wash and wax also helps prevent tarnish on the cleaned brass.
     
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  22. westernrover

    westernrover Member

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    Lot of good ideas already. To add to the brainstorming with some things that might work, but might not be better than some of the suggestions already proposed:

    Removing the water rather than letting it dry on the brass will prevent contaminants in the water from sticking to the brass.
    You've got ideas to use centrifugal drying (spin cycle) or some large absorbant towels.
    You could also try blowing the water off. In my experience, an air compressor with high pressure works best. A leaf blower at lower pressure but higher volume also works but not as well. The caveat is the air compressor needed is very heavy duty, especially for this volume of brass. Forget 120V. I use a 12 CFM @ 100 psi gas-engine powered compressor. Its not enough for your volume of brass. It does well with 5 to 7 pounds of brass. I think you would need about 20 CFM for that much brass, which calls for about 9 or 10 hp and that's going to be 3-phase or engine-powered. If you have it for another reason, it would work, but it would be too costly just to dry brass. High-volume at lower pressure is less costly, but you still need enough pressure to blow the water off and not just evaporate it like a fan would. Drying the brass is not the problem -- it's removing the water with the suspended contaminants, and in this, evaporation is your enemy.

    Gas-powered leaf blowers can deliver good pressure with a lot of volume, but again, power costs. I have a 120V blower that is about as powerful as they get and I can tell you it would be too weak. An 80cc backpack Echo, on the other hand, would probably do very well and for a fraction of the cost of a suitable air compressor. Again, you may already have something like this, but they can also be bought used.
     
  23. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    Citric acid (used for canning) added until the wash water has neutral pH, and drying out the brass faster (heat gun and revolving drum) is what I would try.
     
  24. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator Staff Member

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    If your water is that hard, it sounds like you're not using enough Lemi-shine. I have mildly hard water and I put a .45ACP case of it in a F.A.R.T. case tumbler

    It isn't soap, it is citric acid. It is to break down the carbon deposits on the cases. The rubbing action of the media scrape the deposits free and the dish soap keeps it in suspension (not reattaching to the cases) so that you can pour it off

    That sounds like a lot of soap, if it feels slippery when you pour it out, it's too much...but extra soap doesn't hurt other than being wasted.

    I also recommend using a automotive wash in place of the dish soap. It leaves a light coat of wax on the cases which prevents tarnishing. I use Armorall Wash & Wax
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2022
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  25. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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