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Old September 20, 2014, 06:40 PM   #1
308Loader
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ultrasonic cleaner mistake

hello. I think I may have done a bad thing. I just got an ultrasonic cleaner for my brass. works great! cleaned some cases ultra fast. the expander ball in my fl size die had a build up of junk on it, so I tossed the fl size die in to the tub after cleaning the brass. the die came out black. when I rubbed it with a rag it looked copper ish. did I just ruin my die, or plate it in brass? time for a new one?

it is now in the tumbler with some walnut trying to clean it off. help
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Old September 20, 2014, 07:30 PM   #2
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so in tumbler for a bit, seems to be getting clean. the gunk I thought was on the expander was some pitting at the top and mixture of sizing lube and walnut dust I think. the die is now shiny golden like brass.
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Old September 20, 2014, 08:24 PM   #3
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I would assume your die is steel. It should not be looking like brass. I have never heard of an ultrasonic becoming a plating machine.

What brand of ultrasonic are you using? What cleaning solution are you using? How filthy was your solution? Then the final question is how long did you keep the die in the ultrasonic?

A quality ultrasonic should not require more than ten to fifteen minutes. I use Hornady One Shot on my brass. It states in the directions "Specifically designed to clean brass cases. Do not use on other items."

I have also cleaned nickel plated brass without a problem. I wonder if this could be your problem.

I doubt you have harmed anything. I would think with the appropriate solution in your ultrasonic, your die should return to like factory new.
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Old September 20, 2014, 09:45 PM   #4
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Totally my bad, didn't read instructions...I have a pic. New sonic 700 and new case cleaner. Ran 30 .308 cases through 2 8min cycle. Then tossed in die. Came out of sonic cleaner black. 2hr tumble and shiny brass color to any exposed steel at time of sonic bath.

Last edited by 308Loader; September 20, 2014 at 09:51 PM.
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Old September 21, 2014, 12:33 AM   #5
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I've cleaned a couple of my dies in my ultrasonic, but I don't remember if I used Hornady's One-shot or the gun cleaning solution I have. I agree with lamarw; you didn't hurt anything, but in the future use a different cleaner and make sure you use something to get all the solution off the dies to prevent rusting. I think an ultrasonic cleaner is hood for cleaning much of our equipment, but you need to use the correct cleaning solution for the item/material.
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Old September 21, 2014, 07:24 AM   #6
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Who's dies are you using???? On my RCBS dies the decaping pin and expander ball ARE black, on my lee dies more like a gun metal gray.

Jim
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Old September 23, 2014, 12:30 PM   #7
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Use s can of brakeclean to clean dies. Zero residue and clean as a whistle everytime.
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Old September 23, 2014, 01:24 PM   #8
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I am sure it is okay, doubt you changed the size of the die in any way. you may have a few stuck case when you first use it until the walls become clean again.
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Old September 23, 2014, 02:25 PM   #9
Bill DeShivs
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Cleaning ferrous and non-ferrous metals in the same solution can cause an electroless plating situation-especially if both betals are in the solution simultaneously.
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Old September 23, 2014, 03:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
I would assume your die is steel. It should not be looking like brass. I have never heard of an ultrasonic becoming a plating machine.
If he cleaned in any kind of citric acid based cleaning solution, he turned the 'cleaning solution' into a 'plating solution' for iron/steel.

....And the solution is likely ruined for brass cleaning purposes, as well.


What you have there is brass (copper and zinc) deposited from the cleaning solution, that had previously been removed from the brass that you cleaned.

The black stuff on the surface was probably just crud in the solution, but could have been copper oxide - the conversion of which can be caused by heat from ultrasonic treatment.
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Old September 23, 2014, 06:42 PM   #11
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Electroless plating of copper, which is the color he described after cleaning the crud off, requires a formaldehyde solution and a catalyst.
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Old September 23, 2014, 06:44 PM   #12
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...and after electroless plating with formaldehyde, the waste is very carcenogenic.
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Old September 23, 2014, 06:58 PM   #13
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Electroless plating of copper requires copper and a ferrous metal submerged in an acidic solution. It doesn't need formaldehyde.
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Old September 23, 2014, 10:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Electroless plating of copper requires copper and a ferrous metal submerged in an acidic solution. It doesn't need formaldehyde.
Indeed.



Want to try it?
Mix up a batch of citric acid based 'brass cleaning' solution, and run 20-30 dirty or slightly oxidized cases through it.

Then without any other metal in the solution, drop in a piece of nice, shiny, but squeaky clean, steel. Within seconds, it'll start being plated with the zinc and copper taken up by the solution during brass cleaning. (Agitation and a little heat accelerate the process.)
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Old September 23, 2014, 10:43 PM   #15
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is it pretty?
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Old September 24, 2014, 09:17 AM   #16
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Now that we know what happened chemically to 308Loader's die, is there a chemical treatment to reverse it?
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Old September 24, 2014, 09:34 AM   #17
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Sure. Any copper removing bore cleaner will take the reduction reaction plated brass back off. KG-12 comes to mind. Note that it turns dirty orange instead of blue, so don't let that fool you. It's probably the most aggressive and harmless-to-steel copper removers available, and one application will likely do it. Other copper attacking bore cleaners like Boretech Eliminator or Wipe-Out foam will get it off, though you may need more than one application, depending on the thickness of the plate. If you use an ammonia-based bore cleaner, be sure it is formulated to avoid pitting the steel. Butche's Bore Shine, for example.
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Old September 24, 2014, 07:20 PM   #18
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308Loader needs to give Unclenick a big Thank You. The solution sure beats buying a new die and therefore an inexpensive lessons learned.
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Old September 25, 2014, 11:46 PM   #19
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What would using a brass plated die hurt? I am assuming it is not plated so thick it is actually changes tolerances of the die.
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Old September 26, 2014, 05:24 PM   #20
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Probably not, but the coefficient of friction between like materials is greater than between dissimilar materials of differing hardness, so it will increase the chances of getting a stuck case.
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Old September 27, 2014, 01:36 PM   #21
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Thanks everyone for your reply. I tumled them for a while and ran a clean buffing wheel in the dremmel over all the parts. Still has a brass tinge to them works fine maybe better with the slick shiny walls. I will try some of the other suggestions next time to clean it, and restore the steely shine. Looks kinda cool with copper tie dye.

Last edited by 308Loader; September 27, 2014 at 09:30 PM.
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Old September 27, 2014, 10:35 PM   #22
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Unclenick, you are relying on the lube and not the materials themselves in a bottle necked sizing die.
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Old September 28, 2014, 08:59 PM   #23
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reynolds357.

When the lubricant film is adequate and intact, that's right. But there are a lot complaints about lubes that behave marginally (spray lubes in particular). Also, some folks lube only once every two or three cases, relying on residual lube in the die to work for the rest (though I've had a case stick because I missed lubing it and only it, so you won't catch me risking that). Anyway, the odds of getting away with any kind of marginal lubrication is what will go down with like metals. A good application of a good lube should not let it happen.
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Old September 28, 2014, 09:17 PM   #24
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I only use two types lube. Fosters liquid and Redding Imperial wax. Brass does not stick using them. I think it is an impossibility. During the time I decided to try Lyman spray lube, I stuck 1 or 2 per 100. I ended up using it to trap ants with. It works better for that than it does as a case lube.
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