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Old February 5, 2012, 10:22 PM   #1
djcantr
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OK to reload badly tarnished brass?

I went to a range a week or so ago and picked up brass. I had asked the owner and he said go for it. Most of what I picked up was 9mm but I made a haul, about 22lbs of 9mm in a bucket. It had been rained on and most of it out there for some time. Much of it is a dark brown color. I've had some of it in a tumbler going for about 15 hours with corn cob blasting media and some Nu Finish. It's clean and smooth, but still brown. It should still be fine to reload but it just won't be pretty, right?

Also, I've heard of using Lemi-Shine to clean bad tarnish off brass. Before I tumbled this stuff I let it sit in hot water, dish soap and vinegar for about twenty minutes. I then rinsed it and put it on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees for a bit to dry it out before tumbling. I was afraid to let it sit any longer as I thought the acid in the solution might weaken the brass. It didn't help with the tarnish all that much, either. Can Lemi-Shine damage brass? Is it really effective in removing tarnish this bad? The stuff is quite dark.
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Old February 5, 2012, 10:28 PM   #2
rtpzwms
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No! You must first spit shine your brass before reloading. Just kidding. If its clean you're fine.
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Old February 5, 2012, 10:34 PM   #3
MW surveyor
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djcantr - Are you sure it is brass? After 15 hours in a tumbler it should be really a shiny brass color.
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Old February 5, 2012, 10:38 PM   #4
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I've found brass that has been out in the weather for some time and turned a dark color. Tumbling will not remove it but vinegar and other cleaners will. It all shoots and loads fine. As long as there is no corrosion or pitting.
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Old February 5, 2012, 10:40 PM   #5
djcantr
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I'm positive it's brass. There're spots on them where the tarnish was lighter and has been polished through and I can see brass. I know what steel and aluminum cases look like. Besides, most of it sat out there long enough that the steel cases were rusted and easy to spot. The cases that were pretty fresh and not badly tarnished look beautiful.
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Old February 5, 2012, 10:59 PM   #6
Pathfinder45
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I call it.....

.....Camo-Ammo. Tarnish is fine; serious corrosion is not.
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Old February 5, 2012, 11:25 PM   #7
Vance
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I had a few cases like that. Would never come to a shine. When I changed to tumbling with stainless steel media, those cases shined up to look brand new.
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Old February 6, 2012, 12:43 AM   #8
serf 'rett
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Almost all the range brass I tumble with stainless steel plns, water, dish soap and Lemishine will clean up.
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Old February 6, 2012, 03:17 AM   #9
FrankenMauser
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Some people call it tarnished.
Some people call it trash.

I call it "winter brass".
The deep, dark color of well-aged brass makes it much easier to find in the snow. Even if I don't manage to find it... it's not much of a loss.

Some "slightly tarnished" brass, one piece of decent looking brass, and some "winter brass":

The really dark cases were 4 feet deep in a ditch bank, when I found them. They had to been there for at least 20 years.
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Old February 6, 2012, 06:14 AM   #10
excelerater
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Walnut shell is 10x better than corn cobb
(i dont even know why they sell corn cobb for brass,its usless)
that being said as long as my brass is clean and does not make my hands
dirty I run it
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Old February 6, 2012, 09:48 AM   #11
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I have a few pieces that are badly tarnished, they look almost black, but they are smooth, polished and shoot well.

Why corn cob media? Because it produces a smoother, shinier finish than walnut. I happen to use both.

Some cartridges get corn cobbed some get walnut. After I reload, everything gets corn cob with a little nu-finish in it.
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Old February 6, 2012, 09:57 AM   #12
Rifleman1776
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Just fine to use. Only problem is it is hard to inspect for splits, etc. I am pretty fussy about that.
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Old February 6, 2012, 10:40 AM   #13
wncchester
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Dark color tarnish on cases is harmless. Green corrosion is not, toss those.

Tarnished cases can be loaded just as well as new cases, or it can be harmlessly chemically removed.

Vinegar (acedic acid) soaking reduces the tarnish in a few hours, turning it pinkish. The pink can be tumbled off, leaving the cases looking - and working - as good as new.

There isn't enough effective difference between the results of cob or nut tumbling media to matter. Both are sold because they both work very well but some people who agonize over which is 'best' often use a 50/50 mix just to be sure they get it right. ??

I've never noticed any difficulty either way when checking for splits. Most splits occur during firing; splits get much bigger during sizing so I look for them after sizing.
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Old February 6, 2012, 05:52 PM   #14
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i have some(75) 1950's lc '06 brass that is nearly black, i have about 10 low power loads thru it now.
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Old February 6, 2012, 11:45 PM   #15
djcantr
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Thanks all for your input. I mixed up 1/3 cup Lemi Shine with a little over a gallon of hot water. I dumped a bunch of 9mm brass in there and stirred it around. 45 minutes later and it's already looking great. I'll let it sit in the solution a couple hours but I suspect this brass is going to look quite good once I let it dry and tumble it.
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Old February 7, 2012, 12:01 AM   #16
PunchinPaper
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I found a bunch of tarnished 45&44 brass at my local range and tumbled it twice to try to get it shiny again. It didnt happen... What did happen is - they got loaded and shot. No problems to date after several loads. They are slowly starting to take a shine back with each tumble , but there still not appealing to the eye.
I normally load the ugly brass and box it together for range use. It's not the stuff I show the guys when explaining my hobby , but they work fine and that's all that matters to me! You should be good as long as there isn't any cracks or rocks in them...lol.. Found a few in mine during inspection.
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Old February 7, 2012, 02:39 AM   #17
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
I found a bunch of tarnished 45&44 brass at my local range and tumbled it twice to try to get it shiny again. It didnt happen... What did happen is - they got loaded and shot. No problems to date after several loads. They are slowly starting to take a shine back with each tumble , but there still not appealing to the eye.
The photo posted above is a poor example, but I routinely achieve a decent shine on tarnished brass. In can really confuse some shooters when my brass is dark as night with tarnish, but has been polished to a mirror finish.


Achieving that shine is actually how I cull the really nasty cases. If they won't take a shine, they've been sitting in the elements for too long, and have a porous surface. A porous surface will bring abrasives into my sizing die, and that's not something I want. So, they go in the recycling jug.

Here's an example:
The 9x19mm and .270 Win cases went straight into the scrap jug, but the 7.62x39mm case was saved.
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Old February 7, 2012, 07:24 AM   #18
F. Guffey
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djcantr, you used soap, and vinegar and something else, my opinion, too many cooks in the kitchen.

Had you used straight vinegar you would have been finished reloading by the time you tumbled 16 hours, I am not much on talking it to death, for the very worst of cases I use straight vinegar for a maximum of 15 minutes for the life of the case, meaning using vinegar is a bad habit if time is not a factor. Try this on a few cases, fill a small glass container with vinegar, then submerge a few tarnished cases into the glass container for a 7 days, the reaction of the case to the vinegar renders the case scrap, do the same thing with the lime shine and anything else recommended on forums for reloading etc..

I do not make it a habit of cleaning cases with vinegar, however; I will clean cases in vinegar for 15 minutes (Maximum, meaning unless the cases are beyond ugly less time can be used) to save 2 days of ware and tare on a tumbler.

And if straight vinegar scares you, add water, I have a 5 gallon jug of vinegar, it holds thousands of cases, and that reminds me, St Pat’s day is coming up, I need to move it further back on the shelf, or cover it.

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Old February 7, 2012, 08:27 AM   #19
wncchester
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"... submerge a few tarnished cases into the glass container for a 7 days, the reaction of the case to the vinegar renders the case scrap..."

I question the truth of that. No one need fear what vinegar - or Lemishine (Citric Acid) - might do to his cases. A week long vinegar soak hasn't been suggested by anyone but in my experience - a test specifically done to see what would happen - submerged soaks of several days in straight white vinegar was harmless to the cases. Diluting vinegar simply means it takes longer to get the job done, otherwise adding water has no effect.

Brass isn't porous so the acetic acid in vinegar can't permeate the metal, it can only attack the oxidized dark colored surface. And straight vinegar certainly isn't a very strong acid anyway, we all eat the stuff in many salad dressings, pickles and other common foods.
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Old February 7, 2012, 08:31 AM   #20
flintshooter
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Ok, not to change the subject but, real quick. When you say you use stainless steel pins, do you mean the sewing pins? Have read this a couple times so now I gotta know.
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Old February 7, 2012, 09:44 AM   #21
Vance
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http://www.stainlesstumblingmedia.com/
This is where I got mine. They also explain it with video's.
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Old February 7, 2012, 12:16 PM   #22
jag2
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I find the problem kind of resolves itself. The tarnished brass is much harder to find after being shot, just seems to disappear in the grass. I've got an M-1 carbine that throws brass like an outfielder, after a few trips to the range I just don't have any more tarnished brass.
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Old February 7, 2012, 01:00 PM   #23
243winxb
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Ammonia & Vinegar-Effect on Cartridge Brass

Ammonia & Vinegar should not come in contact with cartridge brass. Ammonia forms in nature, rotting veggies & moisture form it. Brass becomes weak. Google > "stress corrosion cracking" & "dezincification" Annealing will not repair the damage.
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Old February 7, 2012, 10:14 PM   #24
F. Guffey
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I have said many times.....

.. submerge a few tarnished cases into the glass container for a 7 days, the reaction of the case to the vinegar renders the case scrap..." In vinegar the case will turn pink/orange in a few hours, the vinegar goes after the zinc etc., etc.. and I said for a maximum of 15 minutes....and no one thought to ask WHY!

wncchester said:


I question the truth of that. No one need fear what vinegar - or Lemishine (Citric Acid) - might do to his cases. A week long vinegar soak hasn't been suggested by anyone but in my experience - a test specifically done to see what would happen - submerged soaks of several days in straight white vinegar was harmless to the cases. Diluting vinegar simply means it takes longer to get the job done, otherwise adding water has no effect.

Brass isn't porous so the acetic acid in vinegar can't permeate the metal, it can only attack the oxidized dark colored surface. And straight vinegar certainly isn't a very strong acid anyway, we all eat the stuff in many salad dressings, pickles and other common foods.

243winxb said:

Ammonia & Vinegar should not come in contact with cartridge brass. Ammonia forms in nature, rotting veggies & moisture form it. Brass becomes weak. Google > "stress corrosion cracking" & "dezincification" Annealing will not repair the damage.

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Old February 7, 2012, 10:50 PM   #25
wncchester
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A case cleaning solution including vinegar and salt was common for Army use as far back as the 1930s. Neither acedic (vinegar) nor citric (Lemishine) acids cause any problems with brass.

Ammonia IS a problem for brass, especially liquid, so don't let cases even sit in the fumes of that stuff. Not that the damage is instanteanous but it does embrittle the cases.
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