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Old March 16, 2015, 03:15 PM   #1
Nick_C_S
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So what happened to my nickel plated brass?

Hi folks,

So I SS pin tumbled a batch of nickel plated brass, and they came out looking like this.

I've been tumbling less than a year. And I thought I've done nickel without problems before - maybe not. I don't document my SS pin tumbling adventures. Seems like one time, I tumbled some nickel with a batch of brass and they came out looking like this. So I retumbled them without Lemi-shine and they came out fine. Maybe my memory of this is wrong.

Anyway I tumbled this batch (Frankfort Arsenal unit) without Lemi-Shine - just a squirt of Dawn. They came out like this. So I retumbled them again, the same way (thinking maybe the water was just too dirty the first time). No change. So I tumbled them again with the usual Dawn and Lemi-shine - as I do with my brass brass. No change.

So I guess it begs the question: What mixture do you use to get nickel plated brass to come out shiny?



The ones on the left. How they compare to new Starline nickel plated (right):




Compared to a batch of tumbled brass brass (tumbled separately):



Any advice would be appreciated. I'm willing to retumble them. Or, I'll just load 'em up. At the end of the day, it's no biggie, I guess.
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Old March 16, 2015, 03:34 PM   #2
F. Guffey
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In the beginning I was the only one using acid when cleaning cases. I used vinegar and nothing once for the life of the case. I set the time for 15 minutes.

Back in those days it was a reflection on the family, today? No one remembers.

There was a process that required a trip to the drug store, when cleaning cases then cases were cleaned for a maximum of 2 minutes, after soaking in the acid the cases were moved to boiling water for the first rinse, then the cases were rinsed again in boiling water.
POINT: After the second rinse the cases cam out looking exactly yours cases. It was called pickling. the process was a military thing used when putting cases up for long time storage.

I use acid/vinegar for the worst of cases to cut down on tumbling.

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Old March 16, 2015, 04:17 PM   #3
Nick_C_S
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I also just noticed that my SS pins are about the same color and leave a gray film on my hands when handling. ??
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Old March 16, 2015, 04:49 PM   #4
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isn't the FA wet tumbler about the same color? what does the inside of the tumbler look like? can you see pitting or scoring inside?

I have had my brass looking like the inside of my tumbler (i use a modified 4" ABS pipe) 2 times:

1)when i overfilled it with brass-i think a 2/3 full is best

2)and when i put in waaaay too much lemi-shine i use 3/4 of a 9mm case of lemishine for my best results (too much LS also seems like it's leaving brass looking darker/tarnishing quicker)

can't say for sure thats what happening to you but it's worth looking at
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Old March 16, 2015, 04:58 PM   #5
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Just guessing here but it seems that the sulfates in DAWN are leeching out and reacting with some of the zinc from the brass. Zinc sulfate is one of the ingredients in making black nickel. Sulfomates are part of the dull nickel process; which looks something like what you have there.

Looks like you have some interesting chemistry going on there.
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Old March 16, 2015, 05:32 PM   #6
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What is the result if you try buffing one with a scotchbrite pad or a similar low abrasive polish? Can you regain the nickel or is it lost forever?
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Old March 16, 2015, 06:36 PM   #7
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Yeah, they'll polish. With just a paper towel (which is abrasive by design), they'll polish up a little. With a little Flitz SS polish and a paper towel, they'll get shiny.
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Old March 16, 2015, 07:02 PM   #8
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They look like my first batch, when the pins were new and I didn't follow the directions on how to clean the oil off of them. Did you have brass and nickel cases in the same batch? Also, they said nickel cases only took about 1/3 to 1/4 of the time to clean. Too long in the tumblir?
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Old March 16, 2015, 08:12 PM   #9
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The pins are well ran in. It took several tumble sessions when I first got them to get them clean. But that was a year ago.

They could have tumbled too long. The first tumble was my usual (for brass) 1 hour, 45 minutes. They went through two more tumbles about an hour each afterward - in subsequent attempts to get them clean.

They were tumbled separately - not with any other brass.
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Old March 16, 2015, 08:12 PM   #10
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So much for the nice cases. Check your mix and first clean every thing including the pins and tub just because I'm sure they look the same.
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Old March 16, 2015, 08:32 PM   #11
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I think nickel plated anything won't like being scratched with harsh stainless steel, let alone for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Keep in mind: regular brass is a solid alloy made of copper and zinc all the way through. There isn't anything that could scratch or chip off. The SS pins literal take off the dirt and some brass too, and leave you with pure and shiny brass. Filter the water and you will find brass shavings in the filter.

Nickel plated brass on the other side is just that: plated, and not solid. I bet those 1 hour 45 min took the major part of the plating off and I doubt you'll be able to bring them back to the same shiny look they used to be.

I'd dry tumble them or 15 min wet max.
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Old March 16, 2015, 11:01 PM   #12
the led farmer
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So what happened to my nickel plated brass?

Quote:
Originally Posted by McCarthy View Post



Nickel plated brass on the other side is just that: plated, and not solid. I bet those 1 hour 45 min took the major part of the plating off and I doubt you'll be able to bring them back to the same shiny look they used to be.

I've wet tumbled nickel plated brass for over 5 hours before (I forget them) and they looked great. Extremely unlikely ss pins are removing nickel plating.
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Old March 16, 2015, 11:15 PM   #13
Nick_C_S
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The nickel is still there. I guess I really have two questions at this point:

1) How do I make these shiny again?

2) How do I keep it from happening again (while still SS pin tumbling)?
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Old March 16, 2015, 11:18 PM   #14
the led farmer
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How much soap are you using? How much lemishine are you using? Is the inside of your tumbler pitted or worn?
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Old March 16, 2015, 11:34 PM   #15
Nick_C_S
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Inside of the tumbler is like new (because it IS near new).

I use one squirt of Dawn soap (from the pump bottle that sits at the kitchen sink - however much that is), and about 2/3 of a 45 ACP case full of Lemi-Shine. I tumble for 1-hour, 45-minutes. Been using this formula for many months now and it works great for brass brass (see pic #3).

But with these nickel cases, I didn't use the Lemi-Shine the first two tumbles (the OP has the details).
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Old March 16, 2015, 11:42 PM   #16
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Same topic here, several post indicating nickel plating could wear down with SS media:

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...S-Pin-Tumbling

I'm sure there are different qualities of nickel plating out there. Maybe your cases are one of those with thinner coating and gave in after 1 hour and 45 min while others are good for longer tumbling sessions with SS pins.

As far as I know nickel doesn't tarnish. If it looks dull, the plating is gone.
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Old March 17, 2015, 09:03 AM   #17
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I started cleaning brass when the chemical I was using would eat my shoes off. I changed to vinegar, now I use vinegar for the worst of cases and, I believe using acid to clean brass is a bad habit.

I tumble in corn or walnut, I am not into 'it' as a friend, when he fires up his back 'tumble/brass' room sounds like a B 36 running with the engines out of sync. He purchased the tumbler with pins, there it sits, for him it is useless, small and tiny. I helped him put a concrete mixer size wet tumble together, complete with variable speed. We started with a contraption that had a serial number, NUMBER 1. I am a collector of old anything, I thought we should research the value, he didn't.

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Old March 17, 2015, 09:36 AM   #18
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
sounds like a B 36 running with the engines out of sync.
Heh. Six turnin' & four burnin'.
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Old March 17, 2015, 09:40 AM   #19
the led farmer
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Try experimenting with less soap and or less citric acid. If it's wiping off and becoming shiny there is nothing wrong with the nickel plating it's just some sort of residue. Also try rinsing and hot or nearly boiling water see if that helps
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Old March 17, 2015, 11:09 AM   #20
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I won't pretend to understand wet tumbling and SS pins, I don't do it. I use corncob or walnut media (dry) and my nickel stuff all comes out clean and shiny.

Perhaps there are just some things that the wet/pins method is simply not the best for?
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Old March 17, 2015, 11:21 AM   #21
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
Perhaps there are just some things that the wet/pins method is simply not the best for?
Could well be 44 AMP. Could well be.

Right now, I have them vibra tumbling in corn cob. Not looking forward to the corn cob getting stuck in 90% of the flash holes; but the plan is to blow them out with my air compressor with a conical shaped rubber tip (inserting from the mouth side). Last time I made the mistake of doing this, I picked them out one by one with a dental pick type tool - that was a no-fun lesson-learned. At least this time, I know it's coming and have a plan.

Anyway, I'll let everyone know if the corn cob tumble rescues them.
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Old March 17, 2015, 11:25 AM   #22
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As a lifelong machinist/mechanic my first thought is that the stainless pins are harder than the soft nickel plating and they are "abrading" the nickel (tumble them long enough and the plating will be removed). I have tumbled my own brass and been around commercial/industrial tumbling (deburring/cleaning) for a while and believe the hardness of the media vs. the hardness of the part determines the finish. Tumbling cases in ceramic media will leave the cases with a dull, matt finish, Walnut and cob, while "sorta hard" will leave the brass with a finer finish.

To "salvage" your nickel cases, try dry tumbling in walnut or cob.
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Last edited by mikld; March 17, 2015 at 12:01 PM.
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Old March 17, 2015, 11:47 AM   #23
Nick_C_S
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Update: After vibra-tumbling in corn cob for exactly an hour, I checked a couple and they are nice n shiny again. I went ahead and let them continue to tumble for a bit longer. I doubt they need it, but I'm doing other chores around the house, so I have a little time to let them run longer.
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Old March 17, 2015, 12:11 PM   #24
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Pics or it didn't happen
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Old March 17, 2015, 02:24 PM   #25
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it's the acid... mine do the same... try running a load with only the soap & pins, & no Citric acid or Lemishine... they'll look much nicer...

BTW... the Nickel plating does wear thin... even with cob or walnut media, & will as well, with the stainless pins... I have many 44 Mag cases that have been reloaded & tumbled several times, & you can see the brass through the nickel ( long before I went to wet tumbling ) I've started rotating out all my nickel cases, replaced with regular brass cases, since I started wet tumbling

BTW #2... the inside of the Frankford drum is rubber lined ( black ) & has nothing to do with the color of the drum... ( my 1st nickel cases looked like that out of my old RCBS Sidewinder... which has a green drum )

BTW #3... I've since worn out my old RCBS Sidewinder, & just purchased a Frankford Arsenal tumbler, & love it so far... the drum holds way more than the RCBS drum, & the unit rotates at like 4 times the speed ( I used to have to run the RCBS unit for 12 hours to get the same level of clean as the new Frankford unit in 3 hours ), & the new one is 1/2 as loud...
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