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Old May 1, 2012, 11:08 AM   #1
losixxx
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Cleaning your brass cartridges?

I was searching around to find a home remedy to cleaning my brass cartridges. Im new to reloading have bought most of the proper equipment (Lee Breech Lock Challenger Kit, Lee Moderen Reload Manual Vol. 2, Digital Scale, Die set) with that being said I was looking for a temporary fix for cleaning the brass I cam across this:

1-quart water
1-cup vinegar
1-tbsp salt
1-tbsp dish soap

basicaly leave in the solution for 30min mixing ever so often about every 5-min or so. Then rinse with water and dry either with a hair dryer or place in oven at low setting the time im not sure about. Or you can leave set out for a day or so basicaly jus make sure the cartridges is thoroughly dry.

Has anyone used this and how has your own personal experience been?

Thanks in advance for all replies or ideas.
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Old May 1, 2012, 11:25 AM   #2
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I've done that in the past and it works but can take a couple of hours, depending on how tarnished the cases are. Hot water works faster than cold, too. It goes a lot faster to use a sonic cleaner and the mild acid solution.

Be sure to rinse thoroughly, repeatedly. Does not take much time but you have to get all the acid off or you will get greenish corrosion in places such as the primer pocket or case neck.

I dry them on a cookie sheet at about 150F in the oven. The cases left stains on the bare cookie sheet so I now line it with parchment paper (buy it in rolls like alum foil or wax paper). Takes about 1/2 hour to dry thoroughly.

I deprime my cases before soaking them so they will get solution through them better and rinse out more easily.
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Old May 1, 2012, 12:04 PM   #3
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I tumble (in a rock tumbler) most of my brass. I often forget the tumbler is running, so it sometimes runs a day or more.

After a very through rinsing, I put an old bath towel on a cookie sheet, folding as needed so I can pick up the edges. Spread the brass out on the towel.

I pre-heat the oven to 300 to 350 degrees. Depends upon how much brass is being dried. Slip the cookie sheet in and turn off the oven. When the oven is cool, the brass is dry and I just grab the edges of the towel and I'm off.

This works for me.

I have found that just water and a little dish soap with the little steel pins cleans the brass well. But, it has a brass patina. I like the color of the brass with out the shine. To brighten them up, adding a little white vinegar to the mix would work.

Be safe and enjoy,

OSOK
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Old May 1, 2012, 12:21 PM   #4
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Long shortcuts...

Losixx--There are a VAST number of Mickey-Mouse ways to avoid using a vibratory tumbler and corncob medium for cleaning brass. Most of them involve harsh chemicals, applying heat to the brass, considerable putzy hand labor, wetness which must be carefully dried and checked, or some combination thereof. Or even (ugh!) putting the brass through the dishwasher or the clothes washer.

I used to hand-wipe each case with a cloth moist with rubbing alcohol. Effective but putzy.

Look, you can spend time and effort and $$ re-inventing the wheel, and if it makes you happy, go for it. Some guys actually enjoy doing things the hard way. No skin off my nose.

If you just want clean brass with no hassle, get yourself a vibratory tumbler and some corncob medium, put the medium in the tumbler, put the brass in the tumbler, turn it on, and walk away for a couple hours. When you come back, Voila! Clean, dry brass, ready to resize and reload. No putzing.

If you can afford the rest of the reloading equipment, you can afford a tumbler--They ain't that pricey. They ARE that effective. The wheel is already here.
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; May 1, 2012 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Clumsy wording.
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Old May 1, 2012, 12:33 PM   #5
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Megaditto what Joe said above. Oh, if I wanted to shorten my life drastically, a good way would be to cook brass in the oven. My wife's oven.
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Old May 1, 2012, 12:37 PM   #6
losixxx
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Not realy the spending level its the noise level I live in an apartment and what I have read and heard there noisy. Being on the top noise seems to travel. Dont get me wrong id rather go the right way and not cheap out jus looking at alternatives but solid alternives and proven to work well
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Old May 1, 2012, 12:56 PM   #7
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Noise...

Losixx--Where there's a will, there's a way.

Noise reduction: Try using a 1x12x12" piece of styrofoam under the tumbler. Try wrapping the whole thing in a blanket while it's running. On a dry day, could you run the tumbler outdoors, on an extension cord?

Other apt. dwellers: Are they home all the time when you are? Do they have some noisy activity THEY do, when you could do the tumbling @ the same time? Are the other residents shooters--Mebbe you could clean brass for them, and then they'd have no complaint re: the noise. Finally, would they even care abt the noise--EVERYbody does something noisy now & then. You might just ask them if there is a time when noise would be less bothersome--I bet they'd appreciate the consideration.

My experience: My tumbler, which I operate on a wooden workbench in the basement, makes little enough noise that on the first floor of the house, while you can hear it if you listen, and certainly something's running down there, the noise level doesn't impede conversation nor watching TV. I would say your ordinary dishwasher, or clothes washer, makes more noise.

But, if your fellow apt dwellers are hyper-noise-sensitive, and/or anti-gun people, I can see where you'd have a problem...
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; May 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM. Reason: The usual--had another thought.
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Old May 1, 2012, 01:05 PM   #8
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If noise is the issue then consider the sonic cleaners. Almost silent except for a quiet buzzing at first sometimes. Work much faster than vinegar/other acid solutions alone, plus some have built in heaters as well.

The sonics can also be used for cleaning carbon off gun parts such as revolver cylinder faces and AR bolts/carriers.

I have a super heavy duty Dillon vibratory, not putzy at all , but for heavily tarnished brass I would rather run it 15 minutes in a sonic cleaner quietly and 30 minutes in the oven then have it run for two hours loud enough for the neighbors to hear. I don't mind the vibratory cleaner if I am going to be in the house or outside when it runs, or if I am just cleaning lightly dirty brass for 20 minutes. But if I am working in the garage and have some heavily tarnished brass it is great to have it all done quietly in less than an hour, and much more thoroughly than even my non-putzy Dillon tumbler.
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Old May 1, 2012, 01:13 PM   #9
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A decent tumbler (even a cheap one) isn't that noisy. I have a Frankford Arsenal tumbler that came as a kit for about $85, IIRC. My reloading area is separated from my bedroom by only a hollow, cheap door from Lowes. It's about 20 feet from my bed. With that door shut (and there's a gap under the door, like most) I can barely hear it.

No one in another apartment is going to be bothered.
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Old May 1, 2012, 01:24 PM   #10
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Vibratory case cleaners are not built the same when it comes to noise level. For example, Thumblers Ultra-Vibe series are whisper quiet. You could use it in church and no one would notice. On the other hand, the Frankford Arsenal quick-n-ez case tumbler is so loud I can hear it from inside the house while it works in the garage. Being in Canada, my house is well insulated! There is a price difference, but with tumblers you really do get what you pay for. Oh yes, my Frankford Arsenal that I was using as a spare and pre-cleaner eventually quit working after two years of twice-weekly use. My Thumblers Tumbler is now about 20 years old and it's working as I type.

Due to fire hazard, do not cover your tumbler with blankets or pillows or anything else to insulate the sound. It will also insulate heat, and during a malfunction may ignite if flammable.

The styrofoam that someone suggested under the base will help with noise transmission through the floor for a cheaper noisy brand, but be aware that they work best when sitting on something solid. The directions will even often say to place it on concrete. You might get away with putting a ceramic tile or layer of bricks or something else hard on a styrofoam sheet, and that should limit noise transmission and give you a solid base for an efficient vibrating effect. It's easier just to spend $50 extra IMO, and get something that will last a lifetime and be quiet at the same time.
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Old May 1, 2012, 05:49 PM   #11
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What, no one has mentioned using the washing machine?
Works real good, too.
Brass in a mesh bag, lemon dishwashing liquid, maybe with a little vinegar, cleans the brass and the washing machine good, too.
Rinse the dirt off the brass first, though.
Don't tell the lady of the house.
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Old May 1, 2012, 06:45 PM   #12
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I tumbler is the way to go, in my opinion. If I want to do things the long way, I can always take the indexing rod out of my progressive.

I use a thick neoprene pad I found in an alley way, and place it underneath my tumbler when cleaning brass. It doesn't appear to reduce effectiveness for me either. I live in an apartment, and the upstairs neighbors can't hear the dang thing (I use a large Lyman tumbler, BTW).

Good luck, with whichever method you choose!
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Old May 1, 2012, 08:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
If you just want clean brass with no hassle, get yourself a vibratory tumbler and some corncob medium, put the medium in the tumbler, put the brass in the tumbler, turn it on, and walk away for a couple hours. When you come back, Voila! Clean, dry brass, ready to resize and reload. No putzing.
I'm with ya... although I must confess I do add polish to the media.
Hey, to each their own. But I don't get why some guys need their brass so shiny they can shave in the reflection, or spend hundreds on ss media tumblers.
No advantage I've seen...and no, cleaning primer pockets does not improve accuracy.
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Old May 1, 2012, 08:10 PM   #14
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I used the vinegar, soap, and water method shaking them in a jug, then rinsing. Let dry then sort, and bag. I did that for a year before I started reloading. It works just fine. I eventualy got a tumbler I still use it from time to time. I also have a sonic cleaner. I use it for rifle brass. It works just fine as well.
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Old May 1, 2012, 08:29 PM   #15
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try this

http://tinyurl.com/553wxj

I've used this and it works as advertised. Very quiet.

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Old May 1, 2012, 08:44 PM   #16
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Thumbler and SS media is ++++

I am now 2500 pieces into this and it works great.

I set a cheap timer on the plug and it tumbles for 3 hours and waiting for me when I get home. Not as noisy as a vacuum cleaner with the rubber inside.


It was pricey but it takes 15 minutes to empty, clean and start the next load.
They look like new inside and out.

I use the midway brass separator to separate the brass from the media into the bucket below. A light spray of water while stirring it with my other hand gets 99% of the media to fall. I stir another minute to tumble the brass getting the excess water out of the inside of all the brass and then dump it all into a plastic container with a towel. I rub them with the towel for 10 seconds and then inspect each for any ss pins. In 5 minutes they are almost dry, I let them sit overnight on a dry end of the towel overnight.

No regrets, it works as advertised.
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Old May 1, 2012, 09:13 PM   #17
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To avoid confusion, note that LR2 is talking about a Thumbler rotary tumbler, while Gerry is talking about their vibratory tumbler.

You can use the old arsenal cleaning solution of 5% citric acid by weight. That's 7 ounces added to a gallon of water. You can get 10 lbs for under $30 here, postpaid, and that makes almost 23 gallons of solution. Because it softens water you don't need salt or detergent with it, though a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid can help if you either have oil on the cases or a lot of dirt to suspend. You want to decap the cases first—I use a separate Lee universal decapping die for this—so you don't trap water that can take a long spell to dry out. The acid will more easily react with carbonates in the primer residue that way, getting a little more of it out. The oven is OK for drying as long as the peak temperature during the thermostat cycling never gets above 250°C (482°F)(allow the oven may overshoot by as much as 100°F initially, so use 350° as a safe setting limit), but it speeds darkening. The citric acid doesn't leave the brass as active as acetic acid (vinegar) does, so it doesn't stain nearly as much, and it does the job faster.
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Old May 1, 2012, 10:26 PM   #18
SteveHawaii
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I use an ultrasonic cleaner since I live in an apartment. It's a cleaner, less noisy option for me. My process is generally:

- Wash decapped brass in hot soap and water (I currently use Dawn).

- Using a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and some Dawn, ultrasonically clean until primer pockets are clean (takes about an hour).

- Rinse in solution of baking soda and water to neutralize the acid.

- Rinse in water only until clear.

- Dry overnight on a paper towel or sponges. Blow water out of primer pocket first.

Here's the result:

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Old May 2, 2012, 07:29 AM   #19
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Steve,

See that slightly purplish staining on the sides of your cases in the front row that darkens over time? Switch to 5% citric acid in place of the vinegar and that will go away.

Like you, I just leave the wet washed cases at room temperature. I have a perfectly good heat treating oven that will regulate at temperatures that low, but I can't see paying for electricity when nature will take its course for free. I'm always ahead on cleaned brass, so it doesn't interfere, but I wanted to post a temperature limit for those who do use the oven. I usually set them upright on a terrycloth rag for a day, then knock them on their sides to dry for a second day when I've used the ultrasonic.

Below are before and after pictures from some corroded .30-06 that had been in my dad's basement when it flooded. Fortunately all the corrosion was on the outside and after removal the worst pit (far left) was only a thousandth of an inch deep, so the brass was perfectly usable.

Before:



After 30 minutes in heated US cleaner (49°C/120°F) in 5% citric acid + 1t/gal Dawn Essentials (color, scent, and additive-free version used to clean oil off birds). Note worst pit case is now 6th from left:




A last point that bears mentioning is a number of folks have reported that polished brass can produce larger velocity extreme spreads than brass cleaned chemically, indicating less consistent grip on bullets. So there may actually be a technical reason for preferring the latter for ammunition for long range shooting. I have a Thumbler B tumbler, but have yet to pick up stainless pins. When I do, I will run velocity tests with three sets of cases with the same load, one ultrasonically cleaned, one stainless pin cleaned, and one corncob and polish vibration cleaned to see if I can quantify any velocity ES differences.
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Old May 2, 2012, 09:50 AM   #20
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As a user of stainless steel pins in a small Thumler, I look forward to the proposed testing.
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Old May 2, 2012, 01:03 PM   #21
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I used a Lyman tumbler and Lyman media I mixed the Green and Red they have.
My first batch didnt come out well after 5 hours but I found I was using way to much media.
I now use 40% media to 60% brass. This was after about 3 hours.
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Old May 28, 2012, 08:05 PM   #22
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I will have a Stainless Steel tumbler soon.
I look forward to not having to clean the primer pockets by hand.
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Old May 29, 2012, 01:29 PM   #23
judgecrater
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vibrator noise

I don't find my Lyman vibrator all that noisy, but a little. A couple of days ago I saw a friends Dillon vibrator in action and it was nearly silent. Spend a little more, get a little more.
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Old May 29, 2012, 02:17 PM   #24
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For a low buck tumbler it is tough to beat the franklin arsenal model for $41 http://www.amazon.com/Frankford-Arse...8318422&sr=8-1

Mine runs for 60 minutes about twice a week. I try to process what I pick from the range as soon as I get enough to fill the tumbler. I do not deprime before tumbling.

I use half corncob media and half crushed walnuts (both from the pet store) with a few small scraps of old dryer sheet fabric thrown in each time to help keep it clean. A capful of Nufinish goes in and as soon as it is mixed in, in goes the brass. A "spider" ladle or kitty litter scoop does just as well for me as a media separator.

I could tumble longer and get super shiny brass but I am looking for just enough shine that I know it is clean, so I can spot defects when loading, and to make the brass easy to see on the ground.

I tried to go without a tumbler at first, using the wash and dry method. Tumbling is much, much easier plus moisture is never an issue.

edit- this is a pic of a handful of brass that I just took out of the tumbler since I first posted this. 60 minutes.
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Old May 31, 2012, 07:47 PM   #25
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I have a question on using the tumbler: do you remove the spent primers before or after you tumble the cases? Doing it before seems to make more sense.

Also, I have seen some references to putting a small amount of Brasso in the tumbler. Does anyone do that?
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