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Old May 12, 2012, 10:41 PM   #1
Kilroy08
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Cleaning extra dirty brass

I've been trying to clean up some really nasty, dirty brass and need help.

My buddy left it outside for the past 3 or so years in an old tin pail. Not wanting to see brass go to waste, I offered to clean it, tag it, and bag it for when he gets his reloading gear.

After sorting all the leaves and rust out, most of the brass has a heavy brown tarnish. I've got it to the point that the cases are smooth to the touch and don't have any junk stuck on them.

Any ideas for getting it to look relatively decent? I've been using walnut shell with a liberal dose of Ajax in my vibratory tumbler.
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Old May 12, 2012, 10:57 PM   #2
Marco Califo
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Buy a book on reloading

and read it.

Ajax is not something I would use in a tumbler: your are introducing chemicals and grit. Car polish, or paint thinner is what we add to media.

Brass is cheap at ranges and probably in better condition. I do not think it is worth messing with a bucket of old scrap. I vote for tossing it.
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Old May 12, 2012, 11:02 PM   #3
Sport45
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It's still worth a fair bit per pound at your local recycler.
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Old May 13, 2012, 04:55 AM   #4
rebs
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I would sell it for scrap and buy some once fired brass.
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Old May 13, 2012, 05:36 AM   #5
oldmanFCSA
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Cleaning Brass



Deprime first, then tumble in SS Pins

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Old May 13, 2012, 07:40 AM   #6
lmccrock
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NuFinish and mineral spirits in the tumbler, same time, assuming you use walnut or corn cob. Not sure about rice or other media. Works REAL GOOD.
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Old May 13, 2012, 09:00 AM   #7
Rifleman1776
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Normal cleaning and tumbling will put it back into usable condition.
There's no beauty contests for brass.
Clean enough for visual inspection is all that, IMHO, is required.
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Old May 13, 2012, 10:05 AM   #8
Kilroy08
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NuFinish and fresh media sounds like it should be the ticket now that I got all the heavy funk off. I'm just trying to get it looking ok.

After this is done, the brass is going back to its owner with a stern warning about leaving it outside in a rusty bucket.

One of these days I would like to get stainless media; however, for right now what I have works well.
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Old May 13, 2012, 12:06 PM   #9
math teacher
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It may look pretty after cleaning it up, but will the strength of the cases be compromised after that much exposure to corrosion?
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Old May 13, 2012, 12:42 PM   #10
Kilroy08
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Quote:
Math Teacher: It may look pretty after cleaning it up, but will the strength of the cases be compromised after that much exposure to corrosion?
That is a valid concern. I've gone through and inspected it and see no real defects in the brass. There just appears to be a brown patina on it. Will the life expectancy of the brass be affected by the environment it was left in? Possibly so.

I just got the tumbler stocked with fresh walnut media and am letting the Nu Finish mix in before I add the brass.

This is my first time dealing with something like this. I have a fair amount of brass stored up and I've even been using brass that my Dad fired back in the '80s. All of it was stored inside and after a quick trip through the tumbler, it looked like new.
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Old May 13, 2012, 11:44 PM   #11
thedaddycat
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Rifleman 1776 said "There's no beauty contests for brass."

My wife saw that and told me "I don't care how clean it is, you had better not look at the guy next to you at the range and say to him "Nice brass".... "
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Old May 13, 2012, 11:54 PM   #12
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Deprime. Slosh it around in some hot water with a little detergent and citric acid. Rinse, dry, and then tumble it in walnut.

The reason you deprime it is to keep water from getting trapped in the old primer.

I'm using stainless steel pins and a rock tumbler (even works with nasty rusted steel .223 cases). The pins are kind of expensive.
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Old May 14, 2012, 12:08 PM   #13
Kilroy08
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Well, the cases that would come clean came clean. 95% were pitted and deemed non serviceable. I figured the "Would I run it through my press?" challenge was good enough.

My buddy's getting two bags back. Good stuff and scrap it.
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Old May 14, 2012, 01:21 PM   #14
Southboy
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Cleaning Brass

For cleaning all my brass i use corn cob media with a good dose of Brasso mixed in. I let it mix for about an hour before i add the brass. It has worked great for me every time.
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Old May 14, 2012, 04:47 PM   #15
Gerry
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But Southboy, Brasso contains enough ammonia to apparently make your cases so brittle they'll disappear into dust in the tumbling media by the time you think they're clean!
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Old May 14, 2012, 04:54 PM   #16
Old 454
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How much mineral spirits do add to your tumbling nedia.....I am assuming a dry media ?
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Old May 14, 2012, 05:27 PM   #17
Kilroy08
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I did about three cap fulls of Nu Finish, and I want to say 2 to 3 ounces of mineral spirits in approximately 3 quarts of fresh dry crushed walnut media. Then I let the tumbler run for about 20 minutes to mix everything up.

I just ran some of my brass through it and it looks like it just rolled off the production line.
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Old May 14, 2012, 05:37 PM   #18
serf 'rett
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Quote:
95% were pitted and deemed non serviceable
Now that is a crying shame.
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Old May 17, 2012, 09:45 AM   #19
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boiling them for a few minutes with a capfull of lemon juice per gallon works great.
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