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Old June 16, 2016, 09:38 PM   #1
ms6852
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BB's for tumbling media

I normally clean my brass using a sonic cleaner but now that my eyes are failing a little I would like to polish my brass to help me look for irregularities that may make by brass unsafe to shoot.

I have never tumbled brass before and was wondering if anyone here has used BB's for media instead of the walnut, corn, or the steel media sold on the Internet. I did a search but did not get any matches for my results.

Thanks and happy shooting.
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Old June 16, 2016, 10:33 PM   #2
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Would be way to coarse in my mind. Plus dirty and wouldn't get into the little corners of cases. I recommend lizard bedding from the pet shop. Its cheap, add some liquid polish and a dryer sheet. Goes a long way.
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Old June 16, 2016, 11:00 PM   #3
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My ultrasonic gets brass as shiny as any new brass. What brand/type ultrasonic are you using and what is your cleaning solution?

I also de-prime before using my ultrasonic. It cleans the primer pocket, and with 357 Sig brass or rifle brass it removes the sizing lube.

I think with tumbling you want a media that is course or has a irregular shape to help shine the brass. It would seem to me bb's would be counter productive with the smooth round shape.
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Old June 16, 2016, 11:52 PM   #4
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I use the hornady ultrasonic cleaner the big one, and water and distilled vinegar with some soap and than stop the reaction with baking soda.

I'm trying to clean about 10 gallons of old range brass given to me and about another 60 pounds of mixed brass in an old cement mixer my father had, I was gonna tumble wet with the BB's as media for the initial run, so was just wondering if that might work or maybe get steel bird shot. Afterwards I would put it in the sonic cleaner as I reload in small batches.

Just trying to scratch the itch I've had, since watching all that dirty brass for a couple of years got to me. Kind of a spring cleaning in summer is what I'm doing.

But I think the lizard bedding mentioned might be a good way to go. Thanks guys.
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Old June 17, 2016, 07:12 AM   #5
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I would be concerned about the BB, I have pellets and BBs, all are made of lead. There is a whole world of tumbling outside of reloading meaning there are tumbling media available that reloaders have never considered.

And then there is spinning, I was digging yesterday and came across a 3/8 inch drill with a spinner, I could not remember if it was the drill or the attachment I lost and or could not find but it had been lost for so long I forgot I had it. There are reloaders that have the Lee Zip drive for polishing but it only polishes part of the case.

My spinners check the neck for bullet hold; I have to be careful because I have had cases come apart while spinning. Spinning is another way to reclaim cases that are the worst of cases and require days of tumbling or a short run through vinegar and rinsing in boiling water; ‘twice’ and stir when boiling; stirring may not help but can not hurt. And we do not want to forget when boiling cases; the residual heat in the case will dry the case for no extra money.

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Old June 17, 2016, 08:49 AM   #6
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Tumbling with steel stuff sounds like it could do more harm than good.
How clean does brass need to be?
Partly because I'm lazy, but all that tumbling of brass never seemed like a good idea.
A good cleaning in a solution of an effective soap and water gets cases plenty clean enough to see anything suspicious without abuse.
It's just gonna' get dirty again, anyway.
Just a thought.
But don't mind me, I never wax my car either.
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Old June 17, 2016, 09:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
I have never tumbled brass before and was wondering if anyone here has used BB's for media instead of the walnut, corn, or the steel media sold on the Internet.
"BB's" can be an ambiguous term when it comes to guns. While I think that you mean steel air gun ammo, the term "BB" is also used now to designate Air Soft plastic round pellets that are used in the process of tumbling cast lead bullets while applying Powder Coating. Also, but rather archaic, "BB" is a particular size of lead shot used for waterfowling during the turn of the 18th century.
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Old June 17, 2016, 12:47 PM   #8
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I used Copper coated steel BBs 10 years ago for Moly coating bullets.
I magnetically separated bullets from BBs with a permanent magnet from a jet starter generator stator inside a plastic container. I then slid the stator away from the BBs that could not follow past a bump. That dropped the separated BBs.

Once while attacking a fly with a fly swatter, I caused some of those BBs to spill and go down a basement sink. Again I used a magnet to bring them back from the P trap.

I have given up on BBs.

I have seen a jewelry store use ultrasonic to clean the wife's jewelry.
I have used the ultrasonic to clean Copper solvent from a bronze brush.
I have used the ultrasonic to clean one primer pocket.

I have nearly given up on ultrasonic.

I have 250 pieces of once fired brass en route from St Marks.
When it gets here it will get the deprime, Dawn, hot water, Lemi Shine, 5 pounds of stainless steel media 2 hour tumble in the thumbler's tumbler, rinse, dry, bag, label, size, prime, box, charge, seat bullet, label again treatment.
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Old June 17, 2016, 01:36 PM   #9
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Steel shot of any kind is too heavy for a vibratory tumbler and will effectively stall it if it isn't a high power commercial unit costing several times what one sold for brass cleaning does. The round shot shape will never get into the inside corners of a primer pocket, either, which is why the stainless steel pin method uses straight pins. But a rotary tumbler is needed for that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ms6852
I use the hornady ultrasonic cleaner the big one, and water and distilled vinegar with some soap and than stop the reaction with baking soda.
Allow me to make a recommendation:

If you look at Hornady's One Shot cleaner, its MSDS reveals it is basically a citric acid solution, possibly with a wetting agent similar to dishwashing detergent or other surfactant added in. The fact it is green is due to a dye of some kind added to help you identify it. Pure citric acid solutions are clear.

Citric acid, unlike vinegar, has a self-limiting reaction on brass and copper that leaves the surface passivated, so you don't get the oxide color staining over time that vinegar produces, plus there is no need to neutralize it. Just a water rinse is needed. Indeed, citric acid solution is used as a treatment by brass manufacturers for pieces that are to be stored for a long time, because that passivation prevents corrosion. The yellow darkens a little over time, but that's it.

The Hornady MSDS lists its One Shot brass cleaning concentrate as less than 30% citric acid. They then have you dilute it 40:1 for use. This means they have something under 0.75% citric acid in the working solution. Citric acid is cheap. You can get 10 lbs for $25 postage paid. That will make 120 gallons of 0.75% working strength solution for $0.21/gallon, instead of paying $1.50/gallon buying Hornady's solution. You can add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to help remove oil from the brass surface and suspend dirt, though citric acid softens water and makes it slippery already and you may find this unnecessary.

The old Frankford Arsenal (pre-1920's; when it was still an actual government arsenal) case cleaner formula was 5% citric acid, but that was in a vat and not an ultrasonic cleaner. It's more than you need for just one shot of cleaning and makes you throw away a lot unused if you don't reuse it. Nonetheless, knowing no better, I used that 5% solution in my heated ultrasonic cleaner when I first tried it. Here's how it worked on some badly corroded brass that had been in a broken plastic bag that was flooded with water:



Note the brass is yellow, but not mirror polished in any way. I find it is actually more visible in grass this way than when polished because the matte surface doesn't mirror grass blades or other textures around it, but just stands out as a yellow object. YMMV, but I once made the mistake of using nickel-plated brass in a match, figuring it would be quicker to tell my cases from other people's. Wrong. Quicker to lose them. The polished white metal surface mirrored grass with such fidelity it became invisible and I lost more cases than when other people walked off with them by mistake. Live and learn.

If you want a polished surface, once the brass has been cleaned in citric acid, as above, just tumble with corncob or walnut. Have a little ammonia-free brass polish in it, too, if you want to. It polishes pretty fast in the Green Lyman corncob and a vibratory tumbler. 15 min-30 min, depending on the age of the media. I did this to the brass in photo after the photo was taken because of the pink spots left where the corrosion that had preferentially attacked the zinc in the surface brass was removed, leaving copper color. The copper color came right off during polishing.
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Old June 19, 2016, 12:13 AM   #10
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Thanks Unclenick, that is great information.
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Old June 19, 2016, 12:50 PM   #11
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Yes, UncleNick, If I had an open P.O. and sent that post as consulting, I would invoice thousands of dollars for it.
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Old June 21, 2016, 03:06 PM   #12
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Lizard Litter

After reading about using lizard bedding from the pet store, we were at Pet Smart and I asked about that product. That clerk had never heard of "walnut lizard bedding" but they had walnut cat litter. So I bought a bag of that. Well, to make this to the point, that product went to heck as it was tumbling, and lots of it turned into a fine powder. Getting all of that powder out of the cases took me a long time, using compressed air, a paper clip, and a lot of swearing. That was the one and only time I used walnut litter of any kind.

Corn cob media (untreated) is the cats meow, IMHO. Cleans up cases, lasts a long time, and most importantly will fall right out of small mouth cases like 204 Ruger.
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Old June 27, 2016, 05:27 PM   #13
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Years ago when into this I used uncooked rice for tumbler. It did a great job of cleaning but left cases a dull sheen. I could then finish tumbling them with walnut shells and jewelers rouge.
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Old June 27, 2016, 06:52 PM   #14
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Couple of thoughts; air gun BBs, steel, are too heavy to work in a wobbler/vibrating tumbler, they'll prolly just lay in the bottom of the bowl. In a rotary tumbler the drum needs to have paddles on the interior walls, or the BBs will just roll around the bottom of the drum. If you could get them to tumble the finish would be dull, prolly a matt finish. I've tried a dozen different things for media with a bunch of different "additives" to boot, but I settled on corn cob blast media for all around brass cleaning/polishing, just a matter of how long the brass is tumbled http://www.drillspot.com/products/49...bs_blast_media
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Old June 29, 2016, 07:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
prolly
??
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Old July 1, 2016, 11:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
??
Yes, prolly. I often write as I speak and in my Okie/Texan/Arkie background "Prolly" is a common pronunciation of probably. Ain't got no resun to change!
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