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Questions on tumbling media. Help!

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by mingansr, Mar 16, 2012.

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  1. mingansr

    mingansr Member

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    it seems reloaders at xdtalk talked me out of going with ultrasonic cleaning method, so i just purchased a vibratory tumbler off eBay.

    now i've had guys suggest corn cob, walnut shell, and additives.

    i saw that i could purchase 25 lb of walnut shell media at Harbor Freight tools, and since there's a store in town, i can save shipping. $22.95. not bad, methinks. question is, they had 12 and 24 grit. which one, in your opinion, if i go walnut route?

    but, i saw next to that a 25 lb. box of glass bead media, for $25.95. haven't heard anyone suggest that. is that a proper media for case cleaning? wouldn't glass preclude the sticking of media inside cases?

    and what about the additives, like the wax etc. ?

    appreciate all help i can get. i still begrudgingly think that ultrasonic could be a good method. fyi, i posted this same thread at xdtalk, but they don't have a specific reloading forum. i'm really interested in what highroaders can add. thanks.

    oh, one more thing. i thought about a universal decapper die from Lee Precision, and a colleague at xdtalk told me he bought one too, and he takes all dies out but the decapper (which doesn't size a dirty case), so that he doesn't have to pull cases out of the shellholder. i hadn't thought of that, because this retiree has time on his hands to do an extra step. but i have the 5 station Lee Loadmaster, so his idea really automates the process and will dump decapped cases into the box at last stop. i think that's cool.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  2. gpjoe

    gpjoe Member

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    A lot of folks use either corn cob or walnut with a squirt of NuFinish car polish. I use corn cob blasting media from a local supplier with NuFinish and my cases really look nice after about three hours in the vibratory tumbler. I'm not sure what grit size it is, but it seems to be a bit smaller than the corn cob sold specifically for tumbling cases.
     
  3. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Glass beads will be too heavy. Empty cases will float on top.
     
  4. NTP19

    NTP19 Member

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    I use the walnut fron harbor freight. Get the one marked "fine" not "coarse". I also use NUfinish in it. Start the tumbler, pour in a little nufinish in, and let run for 10-15 min before adding brass. I find that mine does clump a little and if I just break them up with my hand its fine. I like that I can turn it on and walk away and come back to it when im ready. I can go to bed or to work with it running and just turn it off when I get home. I was between the 2 methods as well, and I still really like the idea of the US cleaning the primer pockets. You will find plenty of people here who use both methods on the same batch of brass.
     
  5. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Another local source for ground walnut is your local Pet Smart. It is called lizard litter or something similar to that effect.

    There are a couple of other sources for mail order walnut and corn cob blasting media. A finer grit will not plug the flash hole as easy.

    Tumbling media lasts a long time. I run mine until it does not clean very well anymore after running all night. I shoot 5K rounds per year and change my media every year or so. I buy 25 pounds of media once every 3 to 4 years. Your life may vary depending upon how many cases you clean.
     
  6. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Grainger 14/20

    Grainger 20/40

    Drillspot 14/20

    Drillspot 20/40

    Drillspot has no shipping charge from them. Grainger will ship free to one of their stores if you are close, but if you don't have a Grainger, Drillspot is the way to go.

    Here is a pic of the 14/20 from Grainger. It works well, although it does stick in flash holes sometimes. The 20/40 should not stick at all.
     
  8. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I use the 20/40 grit corncob. It's small enough that it will fall through a flash hole and is dust free. If you buy pet media remember it whats left after all of the good stuff is gone, has lots of dust and does not clean as well.

    Corncob is for polishing, it will give you a bright clean finish. Walnut is a course media that cleans better than corncob, more aggressive. If you use walnut you do not need to run it as long. but your brass will never have the shine like corncob. Most add NuFinish to the mix to leave a wax on the surface to keep the brass from tarnishing as quickly. It also works as a lube on your sizing die, making it easier to size.

    I would buy the 20/40 from Drillspot. Being blast media of high quality it will clean better. Some use a mix of both which in the right proportions gives you the best of both worlds.

    The tumbler will not clean the inside of the brass. Only liquid cleaners do that.
     
  9. bds
    • Contributing Member

    bds Member

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    +1 on fine grit walnut media (24 grit) from Harbor Freight and NuFinish. Comes clean with no dust and particle size is small enough to not get stuck in primer pockets/flash holes.

    You can also have walnut media shipped to you from Drill Spot/Grainger at lower cost, but be sure it is fine grit at least smaller than 20/40 grit.

    Also, strips/pieces of used dryer sheet in the media helps collect black dust and extend the life of media.

    IME, walnut does a better job of cleaning black fouling off cases and corn cob does a better job of polishing the case. For me using Cabela's tumbler (same as Berry's), about 20-30 minutes of walnut/NuFinish cleans mixed range brass with a light polish to help with resizing (residual polish works like case lube and allows the case to "glide" in the resizing die). If I want mirror-like polish, I will do additional polishing in corn cob/NuFinish for 1+ hour. If you have really dirty/tarnished cases, it would take longer to clean/polish.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  10. Skyshot

    Skyshot Member

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    I use the lizard litter and get it a Walmart and I coat a dryer sheet with mag wheel polish and I gets my brass done in about 2 hours
     
  11. Cmeboston

    Cmeboston Member

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    I use Zilla brand lizard bedding with a shot of nu-finish. every once and a while ill throw in a cap of mineral spirits too.
     

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  12. dbarnhart

    dbarnhart Member

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    I'm actually about to publish an extensive article on my blogsite with a side-by-side comparison test of the various case cleaning methods.

    What Blue68f100 says is true: Walnut will get the cases cleaner. Corn cob will make them shinier. If your brass has the normal level of dirt and tarnish the corn cob will be your best bet. If however your gun produces really dirty brass then walnut is the better choice.

    I know there is a lot of discussion about buying media that will not get caught in the flash hole. My opinion is that since neither walnut or corn cob cleans the primer pocket you are better off running your brass thru the tumbler before depriming.

    BTW, my tests show that a wet tumbler and stainless steel beats everything else hands down but the downside is that it is more work.
     
  13. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    And a lot more cash expense.
     
  14. JC98

    JC98 Member

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    I tumble about an hour(or until clean) in walnut w/Meguirs 205(polishing compund), pull them out deprime and tumble in corn cob w/NuFinish until they look new.
     
  15. NTP19

    NTP19 Member

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    I've noticed if I tumble before I de-prime my some walnut media will stick inside of the case and neck and I need to swab it out with a Q-tip before re-sizing. If I de-cap before tumbling I dont have the problem at all. So I decap before tumbling. Just my .02
     
  16. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    These days I deprime then tumble wet with SS pins. Next I size and then tumble in fine corncob with NU Finish for 20 min. Casings are then ready for my use now or in 10 years and still look the same.:D
     
  17. bubbacrabb

    bubbacrabb Member

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    I like others use the drillspot media, that 30 dollars might last me more than a decade. I pour in a little nu finish for a few minutes to get mixed in, then ad brass and a used dryer sheet.
     
  18. sharpshooter81

    sharpshooter81 Member

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    Go to the pet store and buy corn cob bedding for hamsters and such, works great with a lil brass polish, and real cheap too.
     
  19. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Not sure about Nova Scotia, but here in the states it way to course for tumbling and really to large for bottle necked cases.

    Back to 20/40 corn cob.
     
  20. lttuna

    lttuna Member

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    Tumbler corncob

    Look at greenproducts.com they will even send you a sample of 2 different sizes of their product at no charge to try it out. I ordered a sample and it came in 2 days.
    I also wen to pet supermarket and bought the course corncob for 6.00 bucks I believe, ran it it the tumber and it worked great.
     
  21. lttuna

    lttuna Member

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    Tumbler materials

    Can you mix the corncob and the walnut (From Pet supermarket)
     
  22. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    No reason why not, altho I've never done it.
     
  23. bds
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    bds Member

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    I have tried mixing 50/50 walnut/corncob and got mixed results. Like "dual-purpose" dirt-bike, you get a mediocre dirt bike in the dirt and mediocre road bike on the road.

    I am back to using media separately. I typically run my range brass in walnut/NuFinish first (about 20-30 minutes) to clean the brass with a light polish. The clean brass keeps my dies clean and residual polish on the brass makes resizing easier.

    If I want more brilliant mirror polish on the case, I run the brass in corn cob/NuFinish for 1+ hour.
     
  24. mingansr

    mingansr Member

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    another question, buds. lots of talk about nufinish. how much for you average tumbler? and what do with it? knead it thru media w hands, or just let it spread itself out?

    thanks again for all the great posts.
     
  25. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    Many years of using a vibratory tumbler,( Ultra Vibe ) walnut shell has worked great. I've tried corn cobb, but it just didn't do as nice a job or in as little time as walnut.

    Years back when I lived in Alamogordo, N.Mex. I would make a trip to White Sands and grab some gypsum. It isn't anything like sand, which doesn't work as media for brass. It's super light weight and and will clean the brass inside and out like new, and in about half the time it takes walnut media too. Plus it doesn't clog the flash hole or get packed into the brass.
     
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