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Old June 7, 2014, 11:59 AM   #1
kostner
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Wet tumble brass cleaning worth the cost?

Have been watching videos on the new Frankfort wet tumbler from MidwayUSA for $199. And wondered if any of you used a wet tumbled type cleaning method. Have been using the walnut/corncob type for years but never got the results that I'm seeing on youtube vids. Is it just another toy or a real break through in cleaning brass. This will be used mostly for 223/5.56 brass.
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Old June 7, 2014, 12:42 PM   #2
larryh1108
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Wet tumbling does work as well as advertised and as you see. There are many threads with pictures from happy reloaders in these forums.

Is it worth the price? Well, when the alternative is next to nothing, the value is up to you. Is it worth the price, to you, for clean and shiny brass?
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Old June 7, 2014, 01:02 PM   #3
loademwell
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I would have payed double. If you do some looking around, You can find codes online from HF that will give you like 50% off an item. The media is a bit expensive but it will last you for a lifetime.
An other quick note about wet tumble. I have found that it cleans up everything. I have put in:
rusty bolts,
Nuts,
depriming pins
and old rusty tools.... I love it. Most don't come out looking "Brand" new, but they come out fully workable. (I wouldn't tumble this with brass tho) When I did, the brace came out Orange ,,, or was it pink,,,, Anyway, they looked funny. I still am going to load them someday but I think I will look funny out on the range with pink brass....
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Old June 7, 2014, 01:05 PM   #4
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If you don't reload thousands of rounds at a time then this one, at less than $50, has proven to be quite the value. You still need the stainless pins but the entire setup will be under $100.

http://www.harborfreight.com/3-lb-ro...ler-67631.html
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Old June 7, 2014, 01:18 PM   #5
loademwell
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$50? Wow.. good price. I almost bought a little kids rock tumbler ($20) and see if wet tumble was good for me... After many weeks of looking at everystore I could think of, the only "kid" ones that I could find were like 40.. So yea, I went with a good one from HF>
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Old June 7, 2014, 06:01 PM   #6
kilimanjaro
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The steel lasts forever, no dust, no further cleaning, and results are very good. I'll never use dry abrasives again.

It's also quieter, seems to me.
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Old June 7, 2014, 06:17 PM   #7
AirPirate
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Larryh is absolutely right. I bought this, almost one year ago http://www.harborfreight.com/dual-dr...ler-67632.html
I may never buy media (stainless pins) again. They last forever. The brass comes out beautiful with only water, dish washing liquid, and a pinch of LemiShine. I wondered which way to go with the cleaning, and I am so glad that I chose stainless.
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Old June 7, 2014, 07:16 PM   #8
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Before you spend your hard earned money, I would like to suggest switching to zilla crushed walnut only (pet store product), not your current mixture. Run your brass for no less than 2 hours and see what you think. You can also throw in a dryer sheet to pick up the dust.

Good luck.
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Old June 7, 2014, 07:43 PM   #9
Monte
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I also went with the Harbor Freight rock tumbler. I bought the dual(2 drums)one. It works awesome, and with the dual drum you clean two calibers at same time. Look at EBay for SS pins, Pretty good deals on there. I have less than $70 in the whole set up.
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Old June 8, 2014, 12:19 AM   #10
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I use a cheap Harbor Freight rock tumbler ($25 on sale). I cut up one of those green scrub pads after it is used up at the kitchen sink. I put a squirt of Dawn in the tumbler with water and cut up pads and about 100 pieces of brass. After tumbling a couple hours I dump into a colander rinse and dump onto a towel to dry. This works well for me and have been using it for 15 years now. No problems with the tumbler thus far.
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Old June 12, 2014, 02:22 AM   #11
RLDRSean
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wet tumbling questions.

I was reluctant to spend much to try out the wet tumbling option. I bought a Lee de-capping die a harbor freight rock tumbler and stainless steel media, dawn and lem' shine. The first run cleaned off all of the oils on the SS media. The second run made used brass shine like new, inside and out. I picked up the Harbor Freight rock tumbler with 2 canisters, each cleans 1 LB. with 1lb of SS media and enough water to cover the brass. I use a pizza pan to dry off the brass @ 195 degrees for 90 minutes. The dual drum tumbler was $47. The media was $37.50. The dawn, pizza pan(with many small holes) and Lemi shine were all about $ 15.00. For under $100.00 bucks I wet tumble and label old coffee cans with clean brass that re-load like new brass!
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Old June 13, 2014, 02:17 PM   #12
Smokey Joe
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Wet tumbling...

Kostner--I would ask, not "Does wet tumbling work well?"--that is beyond question--but, "Is wet tumbling worth the extra fussing it requires?"

For some, the answer is obviously "Yes!" For me, the answer is, "No."

1. I do not require my re-used brass to look new. I just want it reasonably clean. Vibratory cleaning with corncob or walnut gets this. Used dryer sheets (for free) will collect the dust and dirt nicely, avoiding mess, maintaining the tumbling medium, and producing nice clean brass which needs no further processing before the next reloading step. If REALLY shiny brass is wanted, that just requires more hours in the tumbler.
2. I do not like extra fussing of any kind. With wet cleaning, you have the emptying out of the cases, the rinsing of the cases, and the drying of the cases, to do after you have gotten them shiny-clean.
3. Heating the cases in the oven to dry them carries with it the risk of annealing the cases, top to bottom, which changes their hardness. Now you have a set of cases which will behave differently in your dies, and in your rifle's chamber, than will all the other cases you have.
4. I already have a complete set of equipment for dry tumbling. Why spend $$ on a new technology when the old one gives satisfaction.

So, bottom line: I favor a one-step (effective) process over a two- or three-step (also effective) process. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

ETA--If extra shininess is desired, one can add a capful of Nu-Finish Car Polish to the dry medium. Produces that oh-so-desirable shiny-brass look; does not seem to affect the reloading process any other way. And as far as having the interior of the cases clean, as far as I am concerned, that rates a big, fat, WHO CARES??
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; June 14, 2014 at 08:27 PM. Reason: The usual--Had another thought.
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Old June 14, 2014, 07:24 PM   #13
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YES! If you like your brass to look brand new - including the insides and the primer pockets, the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series SS tumbler is for you. It has a HUGE capacity and is much quieter than I expected. Here is how my second batch turned out.
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Old June 14, 2014, 07:45 PM   #14
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+1 to what Smokey Joe said. For me it is not the expense, it is the time. Dry media vibratory cleaner is much less trouble. Results are very good.
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Old June 14, 2014, 10:01 PM   #15
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i was at harber freight today and saw that they are now selling an ultra-sonic, has anyone tried it yet, think it was 70-80$$
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Old June 15, 2014, 11:39 AM   #16
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I have a Hornady ultra sonic... my biggest waste of money to date... because I own it, I try to keep using it for nickel cases, but the wet tumbling does a much better job, just the nickel will wear off sooner or later... likely much quicker with the pins, than the ultra sonic...

BTW... my "new" ultra sonic nearly caught fire... I went down to my loading room one day, & the thing was running on it's own, nothing in it, & was smoking & so hot, it nearly caught fire... I let Hornady know, & they replaced it, along with the warning to unplug not when not in use... an unacceptable response IMO...

BTW #2... I find I get a lot more of my CAS brass back, when I'm shooting highly polished brass, & like my insides clean, as it helps with inspection of cases that have a tendancy to crack, or separate at the base...
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Old June 15, 2014, 11:57 AM   #17
bt380
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If you don't care what your brass looks like and don't mind an occasional primer scraping pending the volume you do, you can use the soak method and forget all the media.
-
I like the wet tumble. I also use a media separator top separate the pins and then add a couple paper towels to get ahead start on the drying.
-
Then I place the brass on a cookie sheet and place it on a dryer rack in the dryer set to the lowest heat setting for 20 minutes. Then I tumble them again for any pins that may have stuck in the primer holes (I deprime and resize before cleaning). I still have a couple rounds that have jammed pins from time to time but are easy to pop out.
-
Thumlers Tumbler: Don't use 1 gallon of water as that lessens the amount of brass you can do. I use 3/4 gallon. 15 LBS limit of stuff inside the container. The 3/4 gallon and amount of pins/brass I use is just right for my cookie sheet which also just fits my drying rack.
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Old June 17, 2014, 08:35 AM   #18
schmellba99
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Just to play devil's advocate (not being argumentative, just conversational)

Quote:
For some, the answer is obviously "Yes!" For me, the answer is, "No."

1. I do not require my re-used brass to look new. I just want it reasonably clean. Vibratory cleaning with corncob or walnut gets this. Used dryer sheets (for free) will collect the dust and dirt nicely, avoiding mess, maintaining the tumbling medium, and producing nice clean brass which needs no further processing before the next reloading step. If REALLY shiny brass is wanted, that just requires more hours in the tumbler.
Fair enough. But my experience is that dryer sheets only mitigate the dust to some degree - they don't eliminate it by any stretch. You still have a lot of dust associated with dry tumbling, and that dust contains lead, carbon and who knows what else you probably don't want to breathe. And, dry tumbling has a limited ceiling. Some brass just won't get polished with it. Cleaned? You bet, and it works well for that.


Quote:
2. I do not like extra fussing of any kind. With wet cleaning, you have the emptying out of the cases, the rinsing of the cases, and the drying of the cases, to do after you have gotten them shiny-clean.
It's really no extra fussing than you have with dry tumbling - instead of dust, granules of your media in primer pockets, etc. you have a little water. And water dries naturally.

Quote:
3. Heating the cases in the oven to dry them carries with it the risk of annealing the cases, top to bottom, which changes their hardness. Now you have a set of cases which will behave differently in your dies, and in your rifle's chamber, than will all the other cases you have.
If you are using enough heat in drying your cases to anneal them, you are doing it very, very wrong. Annealing takes some fairly high temps (600 degrees and up for the most part) - a few minutes at less than 200 is not going to approach annealing. And you don't even really need to heat the cases up (I don't), so it's a moot point.

Quote:
4. I already have a complete set of equipment for dry tumbling. Why spend $$ on a new technology when the old one gives satisfaction.
Good point. I do too, but I'm always looking for something better. Personal preference.

Quote:
So, bottom line: I favor a one-step (effective) process over a two- or three-step (also effective) process. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
I think you are simplifying the "one step" process a little too much. I've done plenty of both and both processes take about the same amount of time. For the most part, they both get the job done just fine. We tumbling has advantages and disadvantages. Dry tumbling has advantages and disadvantages.

One thing I can say is that I will never have a piece of media get stuck in a die again with wet tumbling, and I don't have to deal with different types of dry media, dust or any of the other things that are associated with that type of tumbling. And wet tumbling will bring brass back to life that vibratory tumbling couldn't even think of touching. Like you said though, all personal preference.

OP - here is a good link of what wet tumbling can do:

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=520125

Quote:
ETA--If extra shininess is desired, one can add a capful of Nu-Finish Car Polish to the dry medium. Produces that oh-so-desirable shiny-brass look; does not seem to affect the reloading process any other way. And as far as having the interior of the cases clean, as far as I am concerned, that rates a big, fat, WHO CARES??
Nu-Finish works fairly well, but it's not as good as stainless. The one advantage is that it leaves a wax coating on the brass, which is actually kind of nice to have for a few reasons.

I like having my cases clean, and primer pockets clean. You simply cannot get that with vibratory tumbling.

(I fought stainless tumbling for a long, long time. Now I have two vibratory tumblers, bowls, etc. that I may never use again outside of a quick tumble of finished rounds if I get too much lube on them or something along those lines)
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Old June 17, 2014, 10:50 AM   #19
JimDandy
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I wet tumble.

I don't care how shiny my brass is. Sure shiny is nice, but I don't go out of my way for it.

I find wet tumble IS worth the price however for the time savings based on longer dry tumble times, as well as all the dust not to mention the pieces that invariably get stuck in primer pockets.

I stuck that red dust through my progressive press the first time I reloaded, and decided that wasn't the way I wanted to go as I imagined the nightmare of disassembling and cleaning the progressive press, dies, and case feeder often. When I saw my fingers turning purple, I realized just how much of that dust was going through my setup, and that was all she wrote for me.
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Old June 17, 2014, 12:14 PM   #20
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If you are dissatisfied with you current tumbling results, I suspect you will love wet tumbling with the stainless pins. It is a breakthrough if you desire really clean brass.

To give an answer to the “is it worth it” question would depend on how much brass you tumble. In the last four years, I have tumbled over 30,000 pieces of brass in a small three pound capacity Thumler A-R1 tumbler which was left over from the kid’s rock tumbling days. My only investment was the pins, a new belt for the tumbler and a $1.29 plastic bowl and colander (a very important piece of equipment for separating the pins and brass) set from Wally World, so I got in the game cheap, cheap, cheap.

If you tumble a small amount of brass, stick with the shaker, dust maker.
For medium amounts, the HF small tumbler would work.
Large amounts will work better with a FA or Thumler.
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Old June 18, 2014, 03:46 AM   #21
RLDRSean
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wet tumbling?

I believe that de-capping used brass will save my re-loading dies by keeping them clean and not forcing any dirt or grit or dry medias into the die. I bought the least expensive but well rated rock tumbler I could. I also like not having to clean primer pockets with the pocket cleaning tool. If you have arthritis you know what I mean. I cleaned out my reloading die(re-sizing) with wd-4o and they were full of grit , media and old gunpowder residue. I buy bulk second use brass and feel this is a huge advancement over dry vibratory cleaning. Plus there is less dust in my reloading area to deal with. I bought a large capacity fine mesh colander with a bandana to cover the small mesh holes. I then remove the carts. and leave behind the SS media. You will also need a magnetic pickup tool from an auto parts dealer, your rinsing off the soap in the sink and wil loose a few small pieces. When I want to load up some ammo I just lubem' let m' dry and start resizing.
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