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Tumblers, Polishers, & Media

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by PaFrank, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. PaFrank

    PaFrank Member

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    I posted this on another forum, but all I got was a lot of palavering about "this is what I do..." So I offer it to you for discussion....

    I have both a Thumler's model B and a Vibratory. Actually my 3rd vibratory. the Thumler I bought in 1976 and its still going strong. Vibratory polishers just do not last.

    Secondly, Vibratory polishers are Noisy, and I think use more power. A Thumler is so quiet, you will forget its running! I once left it running for several days... and yes, the brass was mirror finished!

    You can use ANY kind of media in a rotary tumbler. Wet or dry. Dry stuff only in a vibratory.

    Long before the steel pins were available, I used to use steel BB's, a cup of water, and ONE drop of dish soap. Worked just fine, but doesn't clean the primer pockets.

    Now the Media:

    I've always preferred the walnut media, I think it lasts longer than corn cob. But I, as many other have complained about, the media gets stuck in the flash holes.

    I figured that one out too. Buy smaller media. It comes in sizes, ya know. I've been using the 20/30 mesh size and it DOES NOT get stuck in primer pockets, and DOES clean them.

    You can buy just about ANY type of tumbler media here, and at priced definitely better than any LGS, or gun show.

    the downside (or up side depending on your point of view) is there is no polishing compound impregnated in the media. (surf the site, there is a photo of every mesh size offered shown on a dime to give you some perspective on the size.

    And while I'm satisfied with the walnut media, you guys that like the SS pins media might look into this. The company below offers a SS media called the "jewelry mix" Their claim is that the irregular mixed shapes improves the cleaning process.

    Here's the link....... http://www.kramerindustriesonline.co...comparison.htm
     
    Toprudder likes this.
  2. noylj

    noylj Member

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    I used to use some walnut media. It produced way too much dust and a lot of the dust packed into the cases and I had to hand scrape it out.
    20/40 corn is perfect. It does wear out and I have to change it about once every year or two (about 20,000 cases or so).
    Total clean or shiny does NOTHING for accuracy or anything else that I can see.

    Case Cleaning
    Without a doubt the least important and most talked about part of reloading.

    1) All that is needed is to wipe off the outside of the case with a rag, unless shooting black powder. All you need to do is remove any dirt/grit from the case exterior so the sizing die isn't damaged. Accuracy does not go up with cleanliness of the case.

    2) 30 minutes with 20/40 corn will clean and polish the case exterior and remove some of the interior soot. If you deprime first, you will remove the residual white powder sometimes left in the primer pocket. The use of 20/40 grit keeps any media from packing in the flash hole or primer pocket.
    For very dirty cases with dried mud or whatever, ground nut hulls work well--but they also produce a lot of dust that can pack inside a case and take a lot of elbow grease to remove. Soaking in water or soapy water over night and drying may be best for dried mud.
    Some folks like to add an abrasive to polish the brass (jeweler's rouge or Nu-Finish) and some like to add mineral spirits and paper towel/used laundry softener sheets to the media to remove some of the powder (particularly those that use nut media). Corn doesn't produce much powder.

    3) 20 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaner, using hot water/Dawn/citric acid will completely remove the soot and give the brass a slight polish. You will need to rinse the cases and let air-dry. Some go as far as to dry the cases in an oven and then tumble them for more polish. I find just air-drying on a towel is more than adequate.

    4) 6-8 hours with a rotary tumbler (some say 2 hours, but 6 hours is about the minimum for me), stainless steel pins, dawn, and citric acid will completely clean and polish the cases. The pins have to be separated from the cases and the cases need to be rinsed and air-dried. It is best to pour off as much of the dirty solution as possible and then add enough water and pour off to get the solution clear. Then you need to have a media separator (my RCBS works perfect) with a tub/bucket full of water to get the pins to fall out from the cases.

    Everything beyond step #1 is done for the reloader's pleasure and not for any need.
    I prefer #2, as #1 hurts my arthritis and the rest take more time/money--though I have the equipment for all four.
    If you simply have to have really shiny brass, forget the US system and go with the stainless pins--but be ready for a LOT longer time for cleaning and a lot more water usage.
    For all methods, I prefer to decap first.
     
  3. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I've never understood the obsession with making brass look nice and shiny.

    Similar to noylj I don't obsess over my brass.

    I do put a little more effort to make sure it's clean though. When I come back from the range I rise it off, use a vinegar cleaning solution, a couple more rinses then a final rinse with a little baking soda to neutralize any possible vinegar. I then let it dry a few days and use when I reload next.

    My brass is clean and I've been happy with the results. I have thought about a tumbler but see it as an unneeded expense right now.
     
    splattergun and AABEN like this.
  4. hdwhit
    • Contributing Member

    hdwhit Member

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    I wash my brass in a weak acid solution (acetic or citric) plus detergent after decapping it and prior to it's "intake inspection".

    After sizing, the resizing lubricant is tumbled off in walnut media. This also removes sufficient tarnish to permit a second, careful, visual inspection of the case.

    I need my brass clean enough to allow me to spot any potential problems with the case. Beyond that, I'm not interested in "surgically clean" or "jewelry grade" brass since I have nobody to impress but myself, my father and my sons. And they're all more concerned with whether or not I got the load right and that they will be going home with both their eyeballs and ten of their fingers than how shiny it was.
     
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  5. hdwhit
    • Contributing Member

    hdwhit Member

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    Including alluvial sands from the south fork of the Spring River.
     
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I feel walnut media cleans faster than corn cob but corn cob shines the brass better. I use a 50/50 mix of crushed walnut shells and corn cob media and I'm happy with that.
     
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  7. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    "This is what I do"

    profuse and idle talk; chatter.

    About obsessive cleaning of brass.:scrutiny:

    Edit:

    So why should someone buy corn media from Kramer at $65 for 50lbs and $46 or so to ship it?

    ZORO has 40 lbs for $36 and $5 to ship it.??

    Is it extra special ground corn cobs?:what:
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
  8. PaFrank

    PaFrank Member

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    Edit:

    So why should someone buy corn media from Kramer at $65 for 50lbs and $46 or so to ship it?

    ZORO has 40 lbs for $36 and $5 to ship it.??

    Is it extra special ground corn cobs?:what:[/QUOTE]


    Where do you live?? I got a price for UPS ground of 22.29 for a 50lb bag of walnut.... I tried corn cob too, got the same price 22.29
     
  9. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Where do you live?? I got a price for UPS ground of 22.29 for a 50lb bag of walnut.... I tried corn cob too, got the same price 22.29
    [/QUOTE]

    Florida, You are a lot closer. Regardless it is too expensive.:what:

    ZORO is $5.00 or free if you buy over $50.

    Harbor Freight has Walnut, cheap.At the store.
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Well, isn't that what discussion is, how someone else does it for folks to consider? Or did you just want to tell us how you do it and want us to comment on that? I could care less, do it any way that floats your boat. Want opinions on how you might improve your process? Well, that's that old discussion thing again. I guess I don't get it.
     
    higgite, Demi-human and Rule3 like this.
  11. RainDodger

    RainDodger Member

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    Lizard litter from a pet store. Walnut. Small. Polishes well. Cheap. Add a liquid polish to it if it floats your boat. Walnut shells are harder than corncob - that means they ARE going to last longer. All my opinion. Don't make a big deal out of something that's pretty simple!
     
    docbrown likes this.
  12. marchboom

    marchboom Member

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    I deprime then soak the brass in hot water with a little Lemishine (1/4 teaspoon per 1 pt.) for about an hour. Let thoroughly dry then throw into a vibratory tumbler for an hour. Use Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells, Desert Blend from Amazon. Very small and will never block the flash holes. I also put a cap full of NuFinish in with the media. I like shining brass but I'm not obsessed about it. This method will give you very clean and shiny brass.
     
  13. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Member

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    I say a prayer (actually, its more like a chant, "....sub MOA all day, sub MOA all day.....) over my brass and sprinkle holy water on the media (just a squirt) before turning on the tumbler. Seems to work for me

    Edit: I picked up the holy water at a gun show. It's called "One Ragged Hole-y Water"
     
  14. total recoil

    total recoil Member

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    Sometimes my shooting accuracy sucks, but you should see my brass! Spending prime time with your brass is so rewarding in other ways. My wife wants my old cast off brass so she can wear it on a necklace. OLd brass can easily be made into fishing lures that sparkle to lure fish. My brass chemical set is bursting with Nu-Finish, Lemme Shine, Flitz, and a dozen others. Support the chemical industry! Shine your brass!
     
  15. WelshShooter

    WelshShooter Member

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    For me, the purpose of cleaning cases (irrespective of method) is to ensure that my dies don't get full of crud from the range, and to allow me to inspect brass for any damage like split necks.
     
  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I like to clean the range grime and sizing lubricant off my cases. I find dry tumbling the most efficient use of my time for cleaning. The tumbler is off doing it's thing while I am busy with something else, most frequently inspecting the insides of my eye lids (aka sleeping). Actual time I spend at the tumbler is very small for each batch.

    Getting shiny cases with clean primer pockets is a pleasant side benefit. I do like the way my ammunition looks.

    Besides, never underestimate the psychological factor, if I feel good about my reloads, I will shoot better.
     
  17. total recoil

    total recoil Member

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    Yes, I was just kidding. I am, however, proud of the finished product when it shines. One of the worst things you can do is SCRATCH UP and RUIN your dies by running sand through them. That is my most important reason for tumbling brass. I feel it a labor of love!!!! No matter how you do it, do it well and it will pay for itself.
     
  18. Reeferman

    Reeferman Member

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    Got to agree.
     

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