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Thumler liner breaking down?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Ray P, Jul 19, 2020.

  1. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Have any long-time Thumler's Tumbler rotary tumbler users run into this?

    I've had my model B tumbler for 10 years now. It has worked great with ceramics or pins. Brass always came out with a clean matte finish. But now this. The black crud feels waxy, and seems to be water-resistant. It does come off nicely in old corn cob media.

    This is the third batch to come out crud-covered. I've cleaned the barrel between each of the last three tumblings with a mineral spirits wipe down. I'm beginning to think the barrel liner is starting to break down.

    View attachment 930479
     
  2. peels

    peels Member

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    I had that happen once. I think I forgot to add lemon shine or dish soap for that batch. My tumbler is 8 years old.

    Is this happening with multiple batches?
     
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  3. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Yes. The brass shown is from the fourth batch this week.

    Only the first of the four came out normal. This was .44 and .45 caliber straight-walled cases using ceramic media and Buffalo Arms cleaner. They came out vey nice.

    The second batch was range pick-up .50 caliber straight-walled cases, reusing the ceramic media and Buffalo Arms solution. These all came out a very solid dark grey. I thought maybe the batch was graphite contaminated somehow, so I cleaned everything, including wiping down the barrel with mineral spirits when soap and water had no effect. I did polish these later in used walnut media, and the exterior surfaces came out okay.

    Third batch was with range pick-up .30 caliber bottlenecked cartridges. I used the clean barrel, clean S.S. pin media, and fresh RCBS cleaning solution. After 3 hours of tumbling, the brass came out just like shown above. Again, I cleaned out the barrel liner. Again, I tried soap and water with no effect, so I wiped it down again with mineral spirits.

    Fourth batch was just like the 3rd; fresh solution, cleaned pins, cleaned barrel. The brass shown is from the 4th batch air drying, before I put them in the corn media.

    Got to say on the 3rd and 4th tries, the solution came out looking very clean, with small flecks of the black greasy crud floating on the surface.
     
  4. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    In the interest of full disclosure... I had forgotten about the 2nd batch, and left it tumbling overnight. Not my usual practice.

    After the wet tumbling, 3rd and 4th batches of brass cleaned up rather well in the corn media overnight for each.

    I strongly suspect I damaged the barrel liner during batch 2, so I've made that my birthday request to the ladies of the household. I'm hoping against hope I have interpreted things wrong, and that someone else having a similar problem found a cheaper fix.
     
  5. dredd

    dredd Member

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    I have had my tumbler for about 8 years.
    I replaced the liner this year after tearing it.
    I was tugging on it too hard to get it out of the barrel.
    I think it was "aged" for lack of a better term and I didn't do it any favors yanking on it.

    It was not turning my brass black.


    So..... To answer your question, I have had my brass turn black like yours.

    It was because I was not washing my pins & tub after each run.
    I was just dumping the water that I could get out and tossing in a new "mix" to freshen everything up.

    I make sure everything is squeaky clean at the start of every batch.

    Nothing has turned black again.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  6. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Are you using a lanolin based lube and then washing after sizing? When I did this my brass had a thin greasy layer that would rub off with a dry paper towel and have clean brass underneath after I removed them from the thumlers. I was putting on WAY too much lube on the brass. Coupled with not being rinsed off in hot water first to float away the majority of grease it was a mess. If I do this and add some Dawn as well there have been no more problems.
     
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  7. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Hmm. I did try soap & water cleanings before the 3rd and 4th batches, but the greasy black crud was not removed by the water. So I wiped down the barrel liner interior and cover gasket with mineral spirits. That did remove the gunk; the barrel liner was clean before the next batch. But I did not wash out the pins with anything but soap and water. Guess I'll use the mineral spirits on the pins

    On the other hand, I did soak the ceramics in bleachy dish-soap overnight (my lazyman's favorite time interval), and then ran them in the vibratory tumbler with some walnut for 3 hours. The ceramic media is looking better, but is still flecked with minute particles of black crud.

    Sadly, I'm going to need to go to the outdoor range on Wednesday for more cases to clean. May as well shoot something while I'm out there. :)
     
  8. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Thanks, Frogo207. The brass was all either recently once-fired or range pick-up brass. I did no lubing or sizing before depriming, sorting by caliber and case wall type, and only then cleaning. They were all also cleaned for 32 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaner, and rinsed to get dirt and other crud off before I put them into the tumbler.

    Side note: Your avatar looks familiar. Did you shoot action plate at North Berwick back in the day?
     
  9. peels

    peels Member

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    I have no experience with the cleaners that you are using...I've always used 1/4 teaspoon of lemonshine and then a healthy squirt of dawn dishwasher liquid along with stainless steel pins.

    Do you use lanolin for case lube? Do you wash or tumble the lube off after sizing? If you didn't, it is possible for the brass to have enough residual lube to have the issue that Frogo207 is describing.
     
  10. 25-5
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    25-5 Contributing Member

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    I have changed a couple motors over the past 40 years of lots of use, however, no problem with the drum or liner.
    I tumble only dry though.
     
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  11. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Thanks, peels. These are the cleaners I've been using for the past 10 years. I always use the Buffalo Arms cleaner with ceramics, and I switch between RCBS and Hornady ultrasonic/rotary tumbler cleaners depending on availability at the LGS.
     
  12. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Thank you, 25-5. I have so far only switched motors on my Model B once. The motor on my Thumler's Ultra-Vibe is still going strong. :)
     
  13. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Okay, guys. I am taking the cleaning suggestions to heart. So far I've pulled the liner and given it another mineral spirits wipe down, followed by a straight simple green concentrate wash, followed by a 50/50 simple green and water soak. Same for the ceramics and the pins. For this week I will collect range brass. By Friday I hope to; 1) knock out the obvious dirt from the brass, depin the brass, ultrasonically clean the brass, followed by 15 minutes in the ultrasonic cleaner with distilled water for a rinse. After a good solar dry, I will run the brass in the wet tumbler with a bag of new pins that are now still in the bag. If the problem doesn't reappear, I won't need a new barrel liner
     
  14. peels

    peels Member

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    10 years is usage...now all the sudden liner is breaking down bad? I would have expected a more gradual process...
     
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  15. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Makes sense, but onset was so sudden, I was imagining a localized failure. Kinda like for tires you can wear them down evenly, or you can get a thumb-sized bubble in a sidewall for a localized failure; either way makes the tire worthless.
     
  16. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Yeah several belts and a motor but the drum liner in my Thumlers is still good after 12 or so years. The only problem I had was when using a thick waterproof grease to size with and it transfered to everything. Simple green etched .y brass a dull brownish green color so I stay away from it now.
     
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  17. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Thanks for the heads up FROGO207. Only using the simple green for equipment cleaning. My brass cleaners will continue to be commercial brands. Went through, and got past, my Ed's Red homemade gun and brass cleaner phase years ago. Only thing I kept from that is NuFinish for the vibratory tumbler.
     
  18. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    I've had my Model B for 30+ years. Mostly tumbling with corn cob or wet tumbling with solutions like Bransonic or TSP. No pins or chips. Other than a couple of belts it still runs although the motor isn't as strong as it once was. Liner is still good.

    OK, I'll bite. Why were you removing the liner?
     
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  19. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    You convinced me, Laphroaig. Time for a sip of Select.
     
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  20. 2011redrider

    2011redrider Member

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    Others have used Woolite to remove the sticky mess left by lanolin lubed cases, but, you say you dont wash lubed cases? Might be worth a try?
     
  21. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

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    Don't have a Thumler's but my rotary cleaner I use a good squirt of Dawn or simmer dish detergent,1/4 tsp Lemonishine with stainless pin.
    Cleans everything I've run thru it even home made lanolin/alchohol case lube. Fiund minimum 2 hrs run time gets me nice clean shiney brass.
     
  22. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    I am wondering now if the .50 AE and the .308 cases, which were all range pick-ups, may have been lanolin lubed reloads. After cleaning them off in the vibratory, most if not all showed signs of being reloaded at least once; very loose primer pockets, multiple extractor/ejector marks, case mouth trimmed back, bent extractor groove edges... I gathered some good .45 Auto once-fired cases today, and Wednesday or Thursday I'll pick up some bottleneck cases so I can run new batches of cases through the wet tumbler using new components
     
  23. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Cleaning the drum with mineral spirits may be your problem. Not all rubber is resistant to solvents like mineral spirits.
     
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  24. Ray P

    Ray P Member

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    Thanks, Chuck. Using mineral spirits isn't my normal cleaning process for the tumbler. Only used it after this problem showed up as it was something that would cut the water-resistant crud.

    Having never used or had experience with lanolin lubes, I couldn't imagine what caused this mess in the first place. The only thing I could think of was the sharp brass edges had worn through the liner surface to a small un-vulcanized patch. But the comments above, joined with not finding any visual defect once the crap was out of the way, convinced me lanolin is the likely cause.
     
  25. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    Lanolin is a terrific lube but turns into a sticky mess. When I need to remove it from something, I wet tumble with TSP and hot water.
     
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