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Old April 23, 2007, 01:28 AM   #1
Mr Beta
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Sand in Tumbler?

I was talking to someone who was suggesting using sand as a media for tumbling brass.

Any experiences with that?
Would that even clean anything?
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:11 AM   #2
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Sand is just generally hell to me. Seems far too abrasive and I don't even want to think about if you didn't get it all out and it got into your gun.

Reloading media is cheap if you put dryer sheets in occassionally it will make that cheap media last longer. Just buy the media and play it safe.
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:12 AM   #3
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Figured so. Seems too abrasive.
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Old April 23, 2007, 05:34 AM   #4
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Try rice. It's cheap, you don't have to order and pay shipping and does a good job of cleaning.
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Old April 23, 2007, 10:35 AM   #5
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Really bad idea.
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Old April 23, 2007, 12:12 PM   #6
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Even a single grain of sand carried over into a sizing die will damage the die (let alone the brass).
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:08 PM   #7
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Sand is too dense/heavy, too.
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:18 PM   #8
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I already use corncob and walnut media. I just heard someone mention sand and it sounded like a bad idea. Especially after hearing all of the above.

Thanks.
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:22 PM   #9
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Petsmart lizard litter is ground walnut shell and works great on brass, especially with a little NuFinish added. You can find it locally (Petsmart of similar) and save yourself shipping/delay.
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:23 PM   #10
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In a word: NO
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Old April 23, 2007, 02:23 PM   #11
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Sounds good. I'll try the lizard litter. When I run out.
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Old April 23, 2007, 06:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
was talking to someone who was suggesting using sand as a media for tumbling brass.

Any experiences with that?
Would that even clean anything?
Yes, that would clean the brass very well, indeed. Probably wear it away right before your vvery eyes. Think about it: rouge is a very fine abrasive, but one of the coarsest ones for brass tumbling. Talc is also a very fine abrasive, and works pretty well for tumbling.
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Old April 24, 2007, 01:00 AM   #13
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Mr Beta,

It seems everyone is guessing here and no one's tried it yet. We need some empirical research done. ;-)

So YOU try it...on a few cases, and see how sand works. Try coarse sand and fine sand. Maybe you'd just have to run the tumbler for less time since it IS likely to be more agressive cleaning. And as one poster said, it'll be heavier, so don't put too much sand in the tumbler.

But the only way to find out FOR SURE is to TRY IT. Even if it turns out bad for the few test cases - which I doubt if you keep an eye on how fast the "cleaning" is progressing -- so what? THEN you'd know. Right now, we don't.

As for sand "getting into your gun"...HTH would THAT happen? FOR SURE one would inspect and wash the cases FOR after using sand -- and to be sure a grain of sand isn't stuck in the flash hole -- but you have to be sure of that after you use "normal" media, too...so it's a non-issue.

Yes, there's probably BETTER stuff to use than SAND, but it sounds like an experiment is in order instead of guessing how it would work.

Good luck,

-- John D.
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Old April 24, 2007, 11:21 AM   #14
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An offal idea deserves offal material!


Yes!!! Use sand, but make sure it is well used cat box sand!!!!!! No need to remove the big pieces.
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Old April 24, 2007, 12:40 PM   #15
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I can't believe someone actually said try it, let us know how it worked! It would be impossible to completely remove every last chunk of sand from the inside of a brass case. Then what happens when the shell is loaded, fired, then the sand ends up in the barrel? The next bullet drags it down the barrel, riding it into the steel. Do this enough, you will find you rifling on the ground in front of the barrel!

Sand is silica, when melted down, becomes glass. There's not too many things harder than glass. Why not grind up some glass, then use that?

A while back on several forums, a guy was claiming that the tumbler additive polishes were damaging rifle barrels. I and several others pointed out that the polishes MADE FOR tumblers was a very mild/soft abrasive, no where near hard enough to cut steel!
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Old April 24, 2007, 07:08 PM   #16
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It might work well for rough cast small parts - made of iron......




-tINY

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Old April 24, 2007, 08:21 PM   #17
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In a word, N O O O!. Too much chance for other problems, you could really ruin some otherwise good cases, and loading dies also. It could just really make everything the cases come in contact with tainted, unless you went thru another step and washed the brass, and then rinsed really well. May be too abrasive anyway.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and my wife points out, quite frequently: I have been wrong before!
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Old April 25, 2007, 03:47 AM   #18
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I'll throw some in sand and some in some media and let you guess.Just FTH of it.
I'll just toss those after I clean 'em b/c I don't wanna take any chances.
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Old April 25, 2007, 06:50 AM   #19
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Uh, If your tumbler has a plastic bowl the sand will go right to work on it as well as the brass. A grain or so will most likely embed into to plastic to become dislodged at a later date to cause who knows what damage.

Leave it alone.
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Old April 25, 2007, 01:44 PM   #20
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snuffy et al,

[I'm not mad, angry or shouting at anyone here...just ranting]

It "would be impossible" to remove every grain of sand? Now YOU've got to be kidding. Just wash the cases (warm soapy water) and you'll remove everything...sand is no different. Then -- News Flash -- NO SAND would be on the cases to get into the chamber or get onto/in the reloading dies! Where do you people get THAT nonsense? CLEANING your cases means just that...how is sand some "supernatural" material (Kryptonite?) that confounds you all?

Besides, how about ALL THAT SAND on the cases (dirty with mud/sand ammo) and subsequently in the chambers of guns found in combat all over the world? Did those guns of the Marines on the beaches of the Pacific in WWII stop working or blow up? How about the millions of AKs in use todat...does sand choke tyhem all up? Or the GI-issue 1911 jam up because of dirt/sand? Yeah, the custom 1911 race guns sure would choke, and the crappy "modern" bullpup Brit rifles used in the Gulf War did...but not the GI-issue 1911s or the FN-FALs the Brits replaced the bullpups with. Between cleanings, are the M16s our guys using the the Sandbox NOW being ruined by some sand getting in them?

But my point is sand alone, even if present, is not the culprit. Sure, you need to CLEAN the empty cartridge cases or guns, but that's a given, isn't it, and the sand is then GONE, so how is it an issue?

But even is some sand WAS on a case, how is sand harder than a CARBIDE sizing die? If you washed your cases after tumbling, there is NO SAND to contend with anyway. For example, I shoot out in the desert here...ALL my cases that fall to the ground are coated in SAND which sticks to them because of the oil/grease/powder residue. No big deal...I run them in my universal deprimer die (WITHOUT cleaning them, BTW, and NO HARM done to said die), THEN I WASH them first before I put them into my reloading dies...is that just (un)common sense or what.

Where's the mystery or high-level of difficulty here?

And "sand getting in the cases and blown out the barrel"...are you also serious about that statement? Most people here don't clean their primper-pockets out, and THAT crap IS being "blown out your barrel," but THAT's okay with most here, right? But SAND being in a case when you reload it? What kind of quality-control do you have at your house? HTH would that happen if you cleaned your cases...unless you're blind and reloading your ammo by feel alone while you listen to some Stevie Wonder album.

Whatever, you're STILL GUESSING how using sand would be since you don't really know! You and no one you know has tried it, so you're guessing.

And as for the plastic bowl being "eaten away" by sand...you all are still guessing, too, because NO ONE HERE has tried it. Show me -- or the OP in this case -- the proof!

You all sound like the Catholic Church duing the Dark/Middle ages: "Well, this is what we've always believed and there is no other way to believe"...so they burned scientists at the stake for saying the earth was NOT the center of the Solar System.

But that's what science is all about: You come up with a therory -- "sand might work to clean cases" -- TEST that theory by experimentation, then draw a conclusin based upon the empirical results.

So all I have been saying is the idea of using sand sounds PLAUSIBLE, enough to warrant an EXPERIMENT in order to stop the guessing.

I still say TRY IT...and let TFL be the FIRST EVER forum to post the final, conclusive and definitive results re: using SAND to clean metallic cases. ;-)

At least is works cleaning my mess kit out in the field...

-- John D.
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Old April 25, 2007, 03:39 PM   #21
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I have, and yes, way too abrasive. The brass comes out looking like I hit it with 60 grit sandpaper. Plus it needed a thorough multi-part washing to make sure every last speck of dirt was out after the tumbling. Too much at stake to mess around with.
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Old April 25, 2007, 09:16 PM   #22
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Lets call Mythbusters

Those guys love wrecking perfectly good firearms !
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Old April 25, 2007, 09:34 PM   #23
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YEah, I was in pain when they wrecked that shotgun with the finger in the barrel thing. However, they are very amuzing.
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Old April 26, 2007, 10:02 AM   #24
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“Just wash the cases (warm soapy water) and you'll remove everything...sand is no different.”

Having cleaned 100s of thousands of once fired mil brass caked with sand and mud it is not as simple to get to off as you seem to think (though it sounds like you may have been lucky so far).
After you rinse, the sand being a little denser than water tends to settle to the bottom of things, and any remaining soap present acts as glue to fasten it to the case.
I use denatured alcohol for the final rinse, but still have a carbide die reserved for the first pass of dirty brass. It has a few light scratches, but is OK for the most part.
It does not take much to mess up a reloading die.


“how about ALL THAT SAND on the cases (dirty with mud/sand ammo) and subsequently in the chambers of guns found in combat all over the world??”

So you think it was GOOD for the guns?
After paying a couple hundred for a 1911 barrel, cutting a tighter chamber, then fitting it up correctly I would prefer to minimize the chance of running sand through the chamber on a cartridge.
I do not shoot dropped ammunition in my target guns, and not very often in my other guns.

Was reloading a military activity in combat?


“But even is some sand WAS on a case, how is sand harder than a CARBIDE sizing die?”

Tungsten carbide is a matrix material with grains of carbide (WC and W2C) held in a matrix of softer metal. Cobalt is common.
Carbides are also brittle and subject to fracture and separation of the carbide particles from the bonding matrix.

While quartz sand has an absolute hardness of about 100 (sclerometer) and carbide itself is about 400, the cobalt binder is significantly softer.
You can scratch a carbide cutter tool with hardened tool steel. It is not the carbide grains themselves, but removing them from the bonding matrix.

But then I guess you carbide tooling never wears out.
After all, no one is drilling diamond.
Guess those worn masonry drill bits and chipped carbide saw teeth are a figment of everyone’s imagination.

Unlike the Dark Ages some of us have a lot of experience with abrasives and machining.

"And as for the plastic bowl being "eaten away" by sand...you all are still guessing"

Actually, based on the wear we have at work from polishing materials in bulk vibratory cleaners in metal bowls with things softer than quart sand the plastic will wear.
By bowls show wear on the inside from corn cob and brass.
Or have you found a super hard plastic that rivals quartz?
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Old April 26, 2007, 12:13 PM   #25
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brickeyee,

Thank you for your more specific -- rather than guessing -- response.

There are different sizes of sand grains...out in the desert here, it's a "red" sand which I would label "fine" in size. I would think that an experiment using a fine sand -- and the tumbling process kept under watchful eyes -- would not be an outlandish thing to do. Instead of taking hours to clean cases with mild media, maybe it'd take 15 minutes with more aggressive media -- like FINE sand -- I don't know, hence the call for an experiment to find out.

Soapy water has always removed sand from my cases...I must be doing something wrong. But I will admit that I wash them CAREFULLY (with Q-Tips inside as well as the primer pocket) and after I rinse them, I even use a Q-Tip to dry out the insides/primer pocket, then set them in my food dehydrator to completely dry. This "intimate" process also allows me to inspect each case for defects...but sand still being in them was never one of those defects.

No, sand on guns and ammo in combat situations is NOT good for said guns and ammo. I was just saying...

Also, I was "just saying" about the carbide sizer-dies...I don't run dirty cases into any of my dies other than my universal resizing die. But I have seen people post that they are quite proud of running dirty cases into their carbide sizing dies...THEN they clean the cases. I'm not one of them.

Yes, plastic is MUCH softer than sand. Still, "try it and see what happens" doesn't sound like a dangerous "Jackass" stunt. Take an old tumbler, a cup of sand, some old brass and see...the plastic bowls may last MUCH longer than one would expect. Even if they do not, but the process is otherwise working well AND saves time, buy a new bowl. Where's the big deal?

I have never, do not now nor will ever be using a tumbler for my cases...I'm not into "vanity cleaning," only in making sure they are clean of dirt, grit and powder residue. But I am aware of them, know how they work (simple) and am just addressing the use of same. I find them unecessary so I was just speaking to the use of sand in them, that's all.

The Mythbuster guys are clowns...it's entertainment I guess, they sure aren't REAL sceintists nor do they understand enough (history, what people of times past REALLY could do) even to undertake some of the "tests" they do. I certainly do NOT take them seriously, but then, I stopped watching them during their first season.

Again, my point was that if something sounds PLAUSIBLE, but no one has done it yet (properly tested), it's cause for an experiment. Somethng too far out there would be a waste of time, but using a small amount (maybe a cup?) of fine sand with a few defective cases (so as not to waste GOOD brass) in a tumbler seems like a good experiment. It's not dangerous so there's no safety issues to worry about...except Silicosis...so don't breathe-in the sand dust!

Anyway, I think this is enough said from me on this issue.

Regards to all,

-- John D.
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