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Old January 21, 2006, 10:23 PM   #1
PTaylor
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Cleaning brass necessary??

I'm new to the reloading scene, just purchased some second hand rcbs equipt.. but I don't have a tumbler. Is it necessary to clean brass that way or are there other options. Thanks.
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Old January 21, 2006, 10:33 PM   #2
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Some will say no, other (like myself) will say yes. Boils down to this for me....clean brass equals:

1. Better for your dies (especially carbide)
2. If your brass is "picked up brass" ie...at the range after others leave it, it will possibly be more dirty(dirt, sand, and the like). who wants to hand rub this off?
3. Going for a "tuned" re-load for gun? MUST be clean.
4. It just looks better

Clean all the way for me, you can get a good tumbler for around 50 to 60 bucks and media can be cheap, there are tons of post about this. Its worth the time and effort.
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Old January 21, 2006, 10:46 PM   #3
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Tumbling is easiest, 2-3 hours and it looks like new. I have a Lee case trimmer that chucks in a drill, and you can get it clean with steel wool, but it's a pain in the ass. some people just wash it with water and dry it. You will want to clean it to keep your dies cleaner. John
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Old January 21, 2006, 10:53 PM   #4
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Polishing brass is mere cosmetics. You can load forever without bothering. If you have reason to suspect that your brass has picked up dirt or grit, you can just wash them off and let them dry.

I sure am curious why anyone thinks that a polished case has anything to do with a "tuned reload"?
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Old January 21, 2006, 11:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
I sure am curious why anyone thinks that a polished case has anything to do with a "tuned reload"?
That gets back to what "polished" means to me, and what it means to you. For me Polished means that I have effectively cleaned the brass(not just made it shine).

I concede to my wording on that one, shiny brass has no impact on a tuned load, but clean brass does. IMHO

I don't buy brass though, I pick everything up behind other shooters that leave it behind. Most of it is once fired and pretty clean already, but some has been on the ground for a period of time and kind of nasty....
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Old January 22, 2006, 12:54 AM   #6
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It's a good idea.

You do not have to clean brass, but it is a good idea. Unclean brass has grit, both from dirt and from the burnt powder residue, which will wear out loading dies in time.

One of the big reasons to clean brass is defects like cracks, splits and incipient head separation shows up better and is easier to detect. You wouldn't want to use an incipiently separated case, would you?

A commercially made tumbler - properly a vibrating tumber - is best, easiest and cheapest in the long run. Dillon makes a good one and Olsen makes a very good one.

Oh, see if you can find a spare room in which to run it. The noise makes me homicidal, so mine runs in the garage.
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Old January 22, 2006, 09:24 AM   #7
PTaylor
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Thanks for the info.
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Old January 22, 2006, 09:57 AM   #8
NDTerminator
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In my experience & opinion, yes it is. A tumbler is as essential as a quality powder measure. The previous posters covered the reasons well.

You can get an affordable tumbler from a number of places. They tend to last forever; I'm on my second one in 28 years and I use them a lot. I got my current tumbler from Midway 15 years ago, and it's still going strong.

I bet you could also find one reasonable on eBay or on a shooting forums classifieds...
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Old January 22, 2006, 11:33 AM   #9
WESHOOT2
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cleaning case

A cleaned case is more likely to be easily extracted from its chamber.

I polish my used cases to a fabulous shine. Just in case I really need to use my gun.
Just in case.
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Old January 22, 2006, 11:39 AM   #10
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Primer residue is particularly abrasive. It looks like little pieces of glass under a magnifying glass. Milsurp cases especially benefit from tumbling, too.
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Old January 22, 2006, 11:49 AM   #11
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The consequences of not tumbling are such that you won't realize that you have a problem until you've reached the "point of no return."
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Old January 22, 2006, 06:48 PM   #12
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When I started reloading about 5 years ago I bought a small tumbler from Cabala's figuring would last a short time and by then would know if I wanted to keep reloading.Well the darn thing just keeps on going and has done a LOT of brass. Me I pride my self on my reloads and don't want to show up with some burn out black brass.I think you can still get the whole kit from them Tumbler ,media,pan and polish for about $60???????
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Old January 22, 2006, 06:54 PM   #13
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Is cleaning necessary?? Nope. Is it desireable and benificial?? yes
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Old January 23, 2006, 01:04 AM   #14
Mike Irwin
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I've been loading for 25 years, and have never tumbled my brass.

When it gets dirty, I wash it in hot soapy water in a 5 gallon bucket that I slosh back and forth.

Then I rinse, and spread the cases out to dry on a sheet behind the furnace.

Is clean brass important?

Yes.

Do you have to tumble your brass to get it clean?

No.
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Old January 23, 2006, 01:53 AM   #15
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Cleaned, yes. Polished, no. No Brasso either. The ammonia in it can damage the brass. Seems to me Brownell's sells a liquid you mix with water that works ok. A tumbler is less trouble though. You see used tumblers at gun shows on occasion.
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Old January 23, 2006, 02:58 AM   #16
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I'd been loading about 20 years before tumblers became fashionable. We never had any trouble doing without them.
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Old January 23, 2006, 06:23 AM   #17
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Yes, brass needs to be clean. As others have mentioned what you need to use to clean it varies widely. If you shoot a bolt action rifle and never let the brass hit the ground a simple wipe with a rag is sufficient. If you are like me and often scatter brass with an autochucker it takes a little more. I find when I pick up brass I never know for sure how long it's been laying there. I use a Lyman 1200 vibratory "tumbler" now but made do for years washing in a bucket like Mike Irwin described. I've also been known to throw brass in the washing machine with a load of rags.

For me, clean is enough. I don't worry a bit about polishing. The only benefit I see to polished brass is that it may be easier to find.
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