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How to tumble and clean brass cases without electricity?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Jasper1573, Apr 1, 2012.

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  1. Jasper1573

    Jasper1573 Member

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    Do any of you folks who have been doing this for more than a few decades have any methods of tumbling and cleaning brass without an electric tumbler?

    Given ample supplies of reloading components, electricity isn't needed to reload except for tumbling brass...how was this done before electricity?
     
  2. john16443

    john16443 Member

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    Water, Dawn dish detergent, sprinkle of Lemishine. Stir for 10-30 minutes and dry. Here's avideo from Mid South that can tell you more.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epIG4MI4rqk

    Water, vineager, salt, Dawn work well too.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    You set around the wood stove with a rag and some brass polish for hours & hours everyday.
    Or more likely, you just shot dirty brass.

    Shiny brass reloads is a relatively new invention.

    Buffalo hunters probably washed cases in hot soap & water to get the BP fouling & mercuric primer residue sorta cleaned out before it ate up the brass.

    When I started reloading in 1962, several experts advised using an old bath towel & mineral spirits in the driveway to clean them after you loaded them to get the case & bullet lube off.

    rc
     
  4. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    I boil them with the above and stir them with a wooden spoon. Rinse, no repeat.
     
  5. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    They probably only shot at night to spare themselves the horror.
     
  6. James2

    James2 Member

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    I loaded for many years before I even heard of tumbling brass. If you just take a cotton rag and wipe off any soot or dust lube them and resize them you will be just fine. Yes, over time brass darkens, but it doesn't need to shine to work. Shiny brass is cosmetic.

    In fact, when out hunting the empties went into a pocket. By the time you got home the pocket had cleaned them. :)
     
  7. Jasper1573

    Jasper1573 Member

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    Thanks for the inputs...concerning boiling in the above, do you mean boiling in mineral spirits?

    Truthfully, I am not so much concerned about the brass being shiny, as the wear and tear on my dies. Less fouling lengthens die life, or is this really a valid concern?
     
  8. stormborn

    stormborn Member

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    A lot of non-tumbler brass cleaning procedures seem to call for lemon juice (I assume for the citric acid content) and a detergent - I wonder how the 'citrus cleaner' type products would work?
     
  9. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    No conditioner?

    I remember cleaning cases by hand as a no rank GI. I was in heaven when I finally scraped up enough cash to buy a tumbler.
     
  10. blarby

    blarby Member

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    If I were so inclined, I could add media to a milk jug, and shake them to whatever degree of clean I required.

    I'll admit, I like jewelry brass. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

    I am aware that functionally clean is more than sufficient.

    Thats a long separate story and thread in and of itself....

    If it came to a point where I needed to reload, and there was no power... I can envision that scenario.

    I would be grabbing every casing I could, and loading them as fast as possible...cleaning would not be part of the equation except to facilitate function.
     
  11. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    No.. I referred to post #2. What do you load for? If it's with carbide, I'd daresay the electric bill for polishing one batch would outweigh a lifetime of cranking "dirt" up in your die.
     
  12. 918v

    918v Member

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    Attach some hexagonal drums to the wheels of your car. That way you can tumble brass while driving.
     
  13. James2

    James2 Member

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    Hmmmm, what do you suppose would be on your casings, that is harder than Carbide? In order to wear or scratch a die something needs to be harder than the carbide. Frankly, I don't think this is of any concern.
     
  14. JLDickmon

    JLDickmon Member

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    Brew a pot of tea. Earl Grey works best. Let it steep for at least ten minutes.
    Put the tea water in the coffee maker. Add coffee. Add more coffee. Double plus what you would normally use.
    Brew the coffee.
    While the coffee is brewing, run to the store. Grab a two-liter of Mountain Dew Throwback.
    Drink the two liter on the way home.
    Drink the whole pot of coffee.
    Put your brass in the coffee can.
    Add media.
    Hold can in front of you.
    When your heart rate returns to 76 or so, remove the brass from the media.
    Reload your now sparkling clean brass.
     
  15. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    I have no idea, I've never been without electricity.
     
  16. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    JL, thanks for the laugh!
     
  17. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    They lashed burlap feed sacks full of cases and the innards of the corn cobb pipes they had recently made to the spokes on their wagon wheels and hit the trail.
     
  18. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I was shooting revolver long before I got and auto. I bought nickle brass so all I had to do was wipe it down. On my rifle rounds I just wiped the surface cleaned, lubed, sized, clean lube off with towel, then load. I went 30+ yrs without a tumbler.
     
  19. dickttx

    dickttx Member

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    I remember the day when I was ten years old and we came home, and lo and behold, was able to flip a switch and have light!!!!!! No more kerosene lamps or Coleman lantern. First thing my mother did was throw away her Coleman iron and plug in a new electric one.
     
  20. Jasper1573

    Jasper1573 Member

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    I don't know what is or isn't harder than carbide, but I do know that everything in God's creation is subject to wear and failure.

    I was told when I started reloading that I should always clean/tumble my brass prior to resizing to save wear and tear on my dies. This general advice, I believe, was meant to save my dies from the constant abrasion from the carbon left behind by the burnt powder...that made sense to me.

    The original question was, what to do should we have a catastrophic failure of the power grid, how would one clean brass? Maybe at that point it really won't matter, and dirty brass will do!
     
  21. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    if the grid goes down, you've got bigger problems than dirty brass
     
  22. kreidel

    kreidel Member

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    That's why you prep all your brass now so when SHTF you can reload by candle light.
     
  23. 30Cal

    30Cal Member

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    I used a rag. Added rubbing alcohol to it when I was removing case lube.
     
  24. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Put away some steel wool for the eventual need to polish your brass. Make sure it is in an airtight bag so it will not rust.:) You can also use the 0000 steel wool to start fires with if you have a flint or firesteel.:D It will polish brass as long as your fingers will be able to hold it I would imagine.:cool:
     
  25. 1SOW

    1SOW Member

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    Amen.
    I sharpen my carbide bits with simple carborundum sandpaper on a flat piece of glass.

    The very tiny stones (less than 1/16") in our local range dirt/crud can probably damage a carbide die over time.

    If you lose power, you lose water.
    If you still have water you can clean brass to a fair shine with water-diluted vinegar and soap.
    Vinegar is made from alcohol. If you have a good supply of alcohol on hand you can make vinegar!
    SOOoo, If you have enough alcohol on hand, you don't need water and your brass-cleaning problems are solved!:neener:
     
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