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Old December 8, 2012, 09:51 PM   #1
thedaddycat
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Pin Tumbler results

I got my pin tumbler in last week and have had time to play with it a little bit. Here are the preliminary results:



On the left is the 9mm range pick-up brass with a heavy patina, on the right is more of the same brass after 4 hours in the pin tumbler. It did not get everything looking 100% like new, but did do a great job even on the inside of the cases and primer pockets. The pinkish looking ones are those that I soaked in lemon juice a while back. Hmmm.... maybe I should make up special batches of those for the ladies.



As a comparison, here is some 9mm mixed lot brass that has been sonic cleaned on the left and more of the same brass that was pin tumbled on the right. The difference is not as drastic but still noticable. Case interiors and primer pockets are cleaner and it does shine a bit better.
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Old December 8, 2012, 10:05 PM   #2
eddyb74
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What exactly is a pin tumbler? I did a search and came up with a bunch of locks. Got a link?
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Old December 8, 2012, 10:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
What exactly is a pin tumbler?
I'm guessing a drum type with SS pins.
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:02 PM   #4
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The results speak for themselves. Your cases look great! Did you use the normal recipe?

I yearn for the benefits but so far have resisted. The cost, limited tumbling quantity and having to deal with the wet separation of pins, brass, and water have kept me from switching over from dry tumbling.
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:13 PM   #5
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http://biggdawgtumblers.com/5601.html
Look here for larger capacity tumblers for use with Stainless Steel pins. A little expensive, but worth it if you don't want to build your own and want to do large quantities at once.

Daddycat,
The one that were really oxidized range pick ups will continue to get brighter and will eventually shine like new the more cycles they go through the SS tumbling. I have some that was totally black that are shiney bright brass now.
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:28 PM   #6
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Nice results. But the TIME involved has prevented me from considering it. EXPENSE is another, start-up expense that is. The process is very involved, and attention during the process is more hands on. Besides, getting cases THAT clean is unnecessary.

A vibratory case "tumbler" is all that's ever needed. It can do the job while you prepare breakfast, then you can load those cases as soon as you've finished eating. Try that with the wet process pin tumbler.

Using the fine corn cob media from drillspot will result in no media caught in primer flash holes;
http://www.drillspot.com/products/52...bs_blast_media
Besides, it's shipped free, AND 40 pounds of 20/40 media for 35 bucks will last you for a lifetime IF you're 35 now, and live to be 75!

Addition of tumbler polishing media to the corncob results in sparkling cases in as little as 2 hours of operation. Use of a media separator helps, but is not imperative.

I try hard to understand the OCD personality types that HAVE to have those perfectly cleaned cases. I even went as far as getting an ultrasonic cleaner. I reasoned that I could also use it for gun cleaning. I HAD to try it with brass. I deprimed some 40's, ran them through. Yup, nice and clean inside and out. Even the primer pockets! Now to dry them. Don't say well put them out in the sun! Here in Wisconsin, that's about 50 days out of a year where that would work! Again time involved is much longer than dry tumbled cases.
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:48 PM   #7
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Snuffy,

I think that the wet tumbling with ss pins actually saves me time. At least, with autoloader ammo that has been thrown on the gritty ground, so I really want it to be cleaned well before it goes into a die or gun, again.

The trade-offs are that the pins CLEARLY resolve any grit issues and don't leave a lot of stuff in flash holes. So, my inspection and flash hole clearing chores are faster and easier. Tumbling with walnut sometimes left grit still embedded in the brass, so I basically needed to feel the entire surface of each case during inspection to be sure of avoiding scratches on expensive metal surfaces.

In addition, media separation does not raise poisonous dust, so can be done indoors without much bother.

As for drying the cases, I don't try to use them right away, so air drying is easy and non-time-consuming, because I am off doing something else.

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Old December 9, 2012, 02:40 PM   #8
thedaddycat
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I will get some pics of the entire process in the next day or two so you can see that it's not really that much different from more traditional cleaning methods.

A couple of points to remember:

You have to decap prior to cleaning by any method if you want to get the primer pockets and flash holes clean. The pin tumbler does that cleaning as part of the normal process, not as an additional step.

You have to seperate the media from the brass unless all you use is a sonic cleaner. Wet seperation of the SS pins takes no longer than dry seperation of walnut or corn cob media.

Clean brass is usually easier to find and may reduce brass losses over time. Besides, it just plain looks nice.

Yes, you do have to let the brass dry before using it. Though slow, just letting it sit in the garage or basement a couple of days does the trick. I have enough that I can clean any brass I shoot or find at a future date while still having plenty that's either already loaded or clean and ready for reloading. I have around 5-6K of 9mm, most of it sorted by headstamp already. It will all get run through the pin tumbler even though it's already been decapped and sonic cleaned. OCD? Perhaps. But it does help give me something to do while I'm puttering around the house and yard.
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Old December 9, 2012, 04:26 PM   #9
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The cleaned brass takes less effort to resize, and there is less wear and tear on the dies.

The grungy/dirty brass will have grit in the surface of the case.
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Old December 9, 2012, 04:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
http://biggdawgtumblers.com/5601.html
Look here for larger capacity tumblers for use with Stainless Steel pins. A little expensive, but worth it if you don't want to build your own and want to do large quantities at once.
Thanks for the link, that is a brute of a tumbler.
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Old December 9, 2012, 05:04 PM   #11
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For those who use a wet cleaning method



a lightbulb and a bathroom exhaust fan motor and fan from the local hardware store along with scrap ply and some "rat wire" for the drying pans. I added a water heater thermostat to limit the temp to 140 degrees just as a precaution. I don't use a pin tumbler myself just warm tap water and dish washing detergent in a old stainless bowl. Kinda rattle them around with my hand for a couple of minutes then rinse em real good with cold water. Then I roll em around in a old towel to get most of the water off and toss em in this dryer for a hour or two. If it is really grungy brass I may add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice. Last batch I added some salt with the vinegar also but not sure if that made any difference.



works for me
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Old December 9, 2012, 07:33 PM   #12
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I use a thumlers tumbler and ss pins. I add 2 tablespoons of dawn dish soap and 1/2 teaspoon of lemi-shine. tumble for 3 hours and their good as new.

I put the wet brass in a mesh dryer bag and hang them over the dryer door and close it. Run a 35 minutes cycle on medium heat and their dry.

Before


After
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:42 PM   #13
thedaddycat
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OK, we start at the end of a tumbling cycle. The tumbler is full of clean brass and dirty water. I dump the dirty water out and just to be CDO (that's OCD in alphabetic order...) I fill and dump again as a preliminary rinse. It helps get most of the dirt out before the media seperation.



Here are the cleaned brass cases and stainless steel pins after dumping the rinse water out. If you pour slowly you can get almost all the water out without the pins ever coming close to falling out. Sorry about the fuzzy pic...



Here is the media seperator. It looks about the same as a dry media seperator if you ask me. The lower half has water enough to submerge half the lower part of the cage. The brass and pins are dumped into the cage while it sits in the lower pan. This allows the pins to be rinsed free and drop to the bottom. As with other seperators, rotate the cage in both directions several times. I do 10 turns in each direction twice and that seems to get all the pins out.



Here is the brass after the pins are rinsed off. There is still a bit of soap suds on them at this point.
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:42 PM   #14
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Just seems to me that the SS pins are an abrasive method that actually takes brass off the case versus traditional walnut or corncob media, which is a polish rather than an abrasive.

Getting the brass that clean, while nice, does not have any real benefit. If the traditional tumbling did not clean the brass good enough, you weren't tumbling long enough. I typically tumble for 8+ hours, but that is because I will tumble overnight or during the day when I am at work.
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Old December 9, 2012, 08:44 PM   #15
thedaddycat
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I dump the brass into an old pot for one final rinse. The water and brass are poured into the basket and the water ends up in the bottom of the media seperator. The brass in the basket gets bounced around by hand a few times to shake most of the water off.



The brass ends up on an old shop towel on top of a cookie sheet. If I want it to dry faster I can bring it inside by the wood stove.



Most of the water is poured into the top half of the seperator to save it. The pins and water are returned to the tumbler for the next run. The tumbler holds one gallon, which fills it to within a couple inches of the top. I pour any additional water from the top into the tumbler to fill it to the proper level.



With water and pins in the tumbler all you need is two pounds of brass, a squirt of dish soap, a quarter teaspoon of Lemi-shine and secure the gasket and lid. Place it on the base, turn it on, come back in about three or four hours.

I try to run my process in a way that uses as little water as possible and reuses it where possible. The brass comes out beautiful inside and out.

Total time to do this change of brass, including photogtaphy, was about 12 minutes. It took me longer to make this post (two actually as I had more than six pics...) than it did to get another run of brass going.

Last edited by thedaddycat; December 9, 2012 at 08:57 PM.
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Old December 10, 2012, 12:17 AM   #16
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Wet tumbling introduced a new problem

I recently switched to the wet/stainless pin cleaning method. The brass is unbelievably clean. I have been using carbide resizing dies for many years without a problem, only recently reloading 9mm.
I noticed a series of about 20 score marks on the last reloads and traced it to the sizing die. Called the mfr. of the die and was advised to clean out brass buildup. Did this with bore solvent, bore brush, and then with 4/0 steel wool.
The problem may be due to having absolutely no organic film on the brass, causing bare metal to metal galling. I then tumbled some of these clean cases in corncob treated with a generous amount of Nu-Finish car polish and it seems to help by putting a slick surface on the outside of the brass.
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Old December 10, 2012, 12:25 PM   #17
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I'm getting more and more tempted to do the Wet tumbler method because of the volume of pistol rounds I run through my lock n load. No matter what I do, I seem to keep getting walnut media in the press.
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Old December 10, 2012, 01:03 PM   #18
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just a suggestion Jim but try just washing your cases with the same mixture that you would use in a pin tumbler first. Dish soap and warm watrer and add in white vinegar or lemon juice with a dash of salt or lemi shine and the acid wil make em shiny if that is important to you. That way you could see how you like the wet method first. If the results are not clean enough for you then you can always drop the big bucks on the pins and wet tumbler. I switched over to just washing mine a year ago and never will go back to dry. never felt the need to drop any money on the pins and tumbler either. 250 bucks will buy a fair amount of powder, primers and bullets which will do more for me than the tumbler would

I like that idea of the hanging a mesh laundry bag of cases off the inside of the dryer for drying also. Wish I had thought of that before I built that case dryer
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Last edited by hounddawg; December 10, 2012 at 04:26 PM.
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Old December 10, 2012, 03:51 PM   #19
snuffy
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Quote:
I'm getting more and more tempted to do the Wet tumbler method because of the volume of pistol rounds I run through my lock n load. No matter what I do, I seem to keep getting walnut media in the press.
Then you need to heed the advise I gave in post #6 above;

Quote:
Using the fine corn cob media from drillspot will result in no media caught in primer flash holes;
http://www.drillspot.com/products/52...bs_blast_media
Besides, it's shipped free, AND 40 pounds of 20/40 media for 35 bucks will last you for a lifetime IF you're 35 now, and live to be 75!
I do NOT know of crushed/ground walnut media is made that fine. Maybe somebody makes it. Some like walnut better for cleaning. I tried it, nowhere near as good at polishing as corncob and polish additive.

I use nu-finish. It has the added feature of leaving a bit of wax on the outside of the cases, that makes them a bit more slippery, and makes them STAY shiny. Flitz also has some wax in it, same result.

Do the pin tumbled cases stay shiny if stored for long periods, or after loading and then stored?
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Old December 10, 2012, 04:16 PM   #20
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I re-read post #6 and see nothing about getting rid of every last little bit of walnut media. Or the orange-ish brown fingers.
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Old December 10, 2012, 05:49 PM   #21
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You are never going to get rid of every little spec of media from tumbling. The good news is that walnut and corn cob are really soft and don't damage anything. Annoying at worst.

I use a collander that I drilled out the holes bigger and dump my vibratory bowl in. It fits perfect in a bin I have so I can slide the collander back and forth until the majority of the media has sifted out. I use the chef's flipping the egg/pancake trick to sift out the remaining media. Never had much of an issue.
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Old December 10, 2012, 07:02 PM   #22
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Quote:
Or the orange-ish brown fingers.
????! Huh?

Are you using your fingers to dig the brass out of the tumbler? Is that the Lyman tuff-nut media? Red rouge treated? That's some crappy stuff, most do not stick with it very long, leaves a fine film/like/dust on the brass.

I did not say I use ground walnut shells. That is fine corn cob media. I also use a media separator made by Frankfort arsenal.



A couple-3-or-4 spins of this separator get ALL the media out of the cases. I have a case feeder on my dillon 650. If there was media left in the cases, I'd know about it real quick. There's a hole in the back just for letting media get out of the bowl, there's none coming out of there.



Getting cases any cleaner than this is not needed.
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Old December 11, 2012, 05:09 PM   #23
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found gold today ( parts to make a tumbler )

Hey I just found all the parts today to make one myself.I broke down a treadmil today for scrape and found gold,the motor,belt,rollers,even the belt you walked on will be used.Now I just need to weld up a drum and frame then put it all togther,and yeah buy a low-high switch for the speed the drum/moter needs to work well.

So if ya'll are into making things like a tumbler,a treadmil has what you would be looking for as long as the motor is good.The rest will still help out though if its bad.Like I said I hit GOLD today baby now all my brass soon will look like ya'lls ( when built )
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Old December 11, 2012, 06:22 PM   #24
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post us some pic's when you get it made. I bet a 5 gal bucket with a tight fitting lid will make a good drum
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Old December 11, 2012, 08:48 PM   #25
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hey you know what I do have a great drum in hand.Its a tubb that chain came in with a screw on lid.Just need to put a gasket on it.I want be able to see it working but how needs to right.
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