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Old June 2, 2011, 11:43 PM   #1
Fusion
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Brass that has had dirt inside of it.

So a couple of weeks ago I was at the range and picked up a ton of brass someone had left on the ground. The problem was some of it had dirt inside of it. All of it was dirty on the outside with the exception of about 60 pieces of rifle brass. Anyway, I didn't have time to mess with it until now. I took it out, and now all of it's dirty from mixing around in the bag, but I took it all and blew compressed air in it to get most of the dirt out. Some of it has stains on you can see on the inside walls, and I'm assuming I got all the dirt out, but it may be a few light pieces of dirt or something inside it. I've now thrown it in my tumbler, but of course it doesn't clean the inside. I'm going to blow it out again after I tumble it.

So is this stuff safe to use? Or should I be worried that dust or tiny pieces of dirt will mix with the powder when I load them? Also, what about where the brass seems stained. Is it going to be weaker here, or is it fine? Just wondering if I should just toss this stuff into the scrap bin or if I should use it?
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:59 AM   #2
FrankenMauser
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Wash it with a mild detergent (dish soap works well), let it fully dry, then tumble again. Should be good to go.
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Old June 3, 2011, 06:44 AM   #3
Uncle Buck
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FrankenMauser hit it on the head.

I would toss a few used dryer softener sheets into the tumbler (cut them in to 2x6 squares) to help control the dust.

As far as the staining goes, I have not noticed any difference in brass life. Of course you are going to inspect them to make sure they are not pitted or cracked.

I have some brass that is very discolored (I used them for black powder). Just clean, dry, tumble, reload, shoot and repeat.

Good job on scoring free brass.
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Old June 3, 2011, 09:47 AM   #4
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Any brass I pick up that is even slightly dirt-encrusted gets a good soaking and rinsing before depriming/resizing. This step keeps my dies cleaner as well. Where I live, this is only a problem during the rainy months. Otherwise, the brass at my range stays relatively clean.
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Old June 3, 2011, 10:44 AM   #5
Fusion
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So do you guys just fill a tub with water and pour some dish soap in, and then pour the brass in and let it sit for a day or so, or how do you go about this?
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:06 PM   #6
Edward429451
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It's like washing dishes. Agitate them in the soapy water since your hand wont fit in the brass, soak for awhile, agitate, soak...
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Old June 3, 2011, 12:17 PM   #7
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I just toss the dirt filled ones in the tumbler, always manages to come out for me. Im sure the dirt works to polish other casings now too
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Old June 3, 2011, 03:31 PM   #8
FrankenMauser
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I have a metal colander I put the brass in. I fill the tub with fairly warm water, far enough to submerge the colander, add some dish soap, agitate, and let it sit. Every 5-15 minutes, I'll repeat the process, for a total of 1-2 hours. For me, it's more of an "agitate, and let it sit" proposition, rather than hands-on.

Once it looks like most of the dirt is loose, I'll dump the cases out of the colander, and swish them around the tub, as I rinse with clean water (don't use cases small enough to go down the drain ).

Then, it's onto a towel for some water removal, and a day or so to air dry.

I don't have to do it very often, since my tumbler generally removes all the dirt. ...But it works well, when you have to do it.
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Old June 3, 2011, 03:47 PM   #9
Marco Califo
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Quote:
Any brass I pick up . . . gets a good soaking and rinsing before depriming/resizing.
ALL OF IT. Whether it had dirt inside or not. I do cull the run-over, stepped-on, flat stuff. I use a 5 gallon bucket, hottest water from the tap, and Powerball dishwasher machine tablets. Mix, agitate, repeat. Let soak at least one hour. Drain (I use a media separator). Rinse in hot water again. Drain.

Then I deprime. I do not really want to touch it until then. Then it gets tumbled in media with auto polish. Only after that, do I resize it.

After shooting that brass, then I may not repeat the cleaning process as it stays cleaner when it goes from gun to shooting-bench, and back into the box I brought it in.

Last edited by Marco Califo; June 3, 2011 at 06:37 PM.
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Old June 4, 2011, 08:08 AM   #10
grumpa72
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Good advice. Let me give you my 2 cents. Last fall, we had a late rain and the outside range was like a swamp - that's bad. A few guys had just finished shooting a bunch of .223 through ARs and there were several hundred cases laying around that had been trampled into the goo - that's bad. They left - that's good- and I proceeded to pick up all of the brass. I filled the sink in the garage with warm water, dumped the brass in there and let it soak. About twice an hour I would go out, agitate the mess, put the brass in my spaghetti drain (I have one just for this reason) and shook it until the water ran out. I did this until all of the water ran clear. Out of all that, I found one piece of brass that still had dirt in it and that was because a tiny pebble had blocked it up.

Cleaning brass can be very simple. I have even heard of guys who toss their brass into an old pillow case, tie it off and run it through the washing machine. I don't do that. I did however run a transmission bell housing through the dishwasher. Big mistake because my wife was home. It did, however, completely clean that puppy up. Imagine a 40 year old bell housing in the same dishwasher that you eat dishes from. I can understand my wife's anger.
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Old June 4, 2011, 10:06 AM   #11
chris in va
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I should probably start washing my 223 brass. Found one while reloading that still had mud packed in the case.
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Old June 4, 2011, 11:52 AM   #12
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I routinely put all range brass I find in a 1/2 gallon plastic bucket filled with hot soapy water and let them soak overnight. [Soaking is important to loosen up caked on mud and other debris]. The next day I rinse the brass several times in fresh water, pour the brass into a colander, then shake a couple times to remove most residual water. After drying in the colander for 2-3 days I run them through the tumbler. Should I need the brass quicker, I bake them on a cookie sheet in the over for a couple hours @ 200 degrees.
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Old June 4, 2011, 12:05 PM   #13
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One thing to remember about washing brass is to dry it as quickly as possible to prevent corrosion and/or decap as soon as possible. BP is the worst but BP shooters generally don't leave brass lying around. If the primer has a chance to corrode before you deprime it you may only punch out the center and leave the outer ring or you may break or bend a decapping pin. If you don't catch it at this stage it can get messy in a progressive press. Or so I've heard, never happened to me, of course.
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Old June 4, 2011, 03:14 PM   #14
serf 'rett
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Dig the brass out of dirt. The stuff that's been there for a while often has spider webs inside. De-prime the brass.
For less than a dollar, I picked up a matched plastic bowl and colander set from Wally World which I use for initial cleaning of caked on dirt, etc. Chunk a tumbler load of brass in the colander/bowl and run hot water onto brass, swill the brass around, by hand, for about 1-2 minutes, lift colander and dump water. For the dirty stuff, the bowl is filled again, I may add a touch of dish washing soap for round two, and the brass is once again stirred by hand to knock loose the dirt/sand/grass/spider webs, etc. When I pour off the second bowl of water, I’m looking to see if there is significant sediment in the bottom of the bowl. If needed, I will wash additional times, but this is rarely needed.
This washing process takes maybe 4 minutes. I fail to understand why someone would want to “soak” the brass for hours, because even the hard crusty clay comes off fairly easily with a few minutes of water, soap and agitation.
Dump the brass into the tumbler and wet tumble with stainless steel media for 45 to 90 minutes and everything - inside, outside, primer pockets, etc. - is clean and polished.
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Old June 4, 2011, 04:03 PM   #15
Marco Califo
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Quote:
I fail to understand why someone would want to “soak” the brass for hours, because even the hard crusty clay comes off fairly easily with a few minutes of water, soap and agitation.
Soaking in detergent is not for the clay. Fired cases have primer and powder residue, which I consider to be toxic. The water that comes off in the wash is not clean. In particular, raw military 308 once-fired's are filthy with "other-than-soil" grime.
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Old June 4, 2011, 04:44 PM   #16
Steel Talon
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If I'm dealing with a few pieces esp. straight wall brass I ream them with a twist of a screw driver, then a bit of a soak. If I have too many to fool with I throw them in my recycle bucket. So its a win win for me and I spend my time loading more.
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