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Old March 18, 2013, 11:55 PM   #1
ScottRiqui
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Anyone have some really NASTY brass they want cleaned?

I recently bought the STM stainless-steel pin tumbling system, and it's really blown me away - the brass comes out looking essentially like new, inside and out.

BUT, almost all of the brass I collect is the typical "fired once, swept up off a concrete floor and tossed in a barrel", so other than tarnish, dirt and carbon deposits, it really wasn't that bad to begin with.

So, I'm looking for a few people who are willing to send me some nasty, grody, neglected brass to test out in the tumbler. Stuff that's corroded, been left out in the sun, heavily tarnished - you get the idea.

I'll take "before" pictures, tumble it, take "after" pictures, write up a little review to post here in this thread, and then send it back to the owner.

The first two or three people who volunteer in this thread can PM me for my mailing address.


Here's what I have in mind:

1) Dump the brass (2-4 pounds max, please) into a U.S. Postal Service "Flat Rate" box. You pay to ship it to me, and I'll pay to ship it back. I'll have it tumbled and back in the mail within a week of receiving it, probably sooner.

2) Mixed calibers are fine (preferred, even), but I'd appreciate it if for the most part, the cases don't easily "nest" inside one another (like 9mm and .40 S&W).

3) Likewise, I'd appreciate it if not all of the cases are absolutely packed with mud/rocks/small animal bones/etc. A few like that are fine though, because I'm curious to see how the tumbler will handle them.

4) I'll deprime it before tumbling if I have a shell holder that fits it and if the case isn't packed with debris. I have a dedicated decapping die, so there won't be any sizing done that might scratch up the dirty brass.

5) I'll be using the standard tumbling recipe (five pounds of pins, two pounds of brass per batch, 1-2 tablespoons of Dawn dishwashing soap and 1/4-teaspoon of Lemishine), so it should be safe for the brass, but I make no guarantees as to the brass being suitable for reloading afterward. Heavy corrosion means that there's likely been at least some metal loss, and tumbling won't put that back. Likewise, cases that are cracked, split or bulged will still be cracked, split or bulged afterward. Also, I don't know what pin-tumbling does to lacquer or other case coatings.

So, anyone want to participate?
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Old March 19, 2013, 02:33 AM   #2
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NO, I like my brass nasty. That way no-one wants to pick it up on me.
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Old March 19, 2013, 10:12 AM   #3
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I've got some 6mm Rem brass that's been loaded for 30+ years and is the worst tarnished I've ever seen. It takes about 4 hours in my vibratory tumbler with walnut and Flitz polish to get it looking good. Even then, the innards and primer pockets aren't clean.

I'd love to send you some... but most of it is still loaded.

I'll have to tell my uncle to GET SHOOTIN'!
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Old March 19, 2013, 10:16 AM   #4
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Well, keep me in mind when you do shoot it - no one's beating down my door just yet.
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Old March 19, 2013, 02:15 PM   #5
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I have some .40 that is brass, but looks like Wolf steel cased ammo (yes, it is that tarnished) that I'd be happy to send some to you just to see how it works.

I don't shoot .40, so this brass is almost useless to me. I'd love to sell or trade it to somebody that wants it, but for some reason it is hard to get rid of .40 brass.
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Old March 19, 2013, 02:33 PM   #6
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PM sent
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Old March 19, 2013, 04:15 PM   #7
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Not that hard, everybody offering reloadable .40 brass I let them know I am looking, so far I have about 200rds of brass and no reloading kit yet
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Old March 19, 2013, 04:48 PM   #8
Beentown71
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Re: Anyone have some really NASTY brass they want cleaned?

I have some nasty (by my definition anyway) .223 and .308 setting around. I will take pics and post to see if it is nasty enough for you. Give me a minute.
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Old March 19, 2013, 04:57 PM   #9
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Re: Anyone have some really NASTY brass they want cleaned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beentown71 View Post
I have some nasty (by my definition anyway) .223 and .308 setting around. I will take pics and post to see if it is nasty enough for you. Give me a minute.
Example...


Last edited by Beentown71; March 19, 2013 at 05:58 PM.
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Old March 19, 2013, 05:07 PM   #10
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That's certainly more tarnished and weathered than anything I've run through the tumbler so far - I think all of those are good candidates. I'll PM you my address.
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Old March 19, 2013, 05:58 PM   #11
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Got it. I have a good amount of some like this. I'll fill up a USPS Small Box and send it out tomorrow.
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Old March 19, 2013, 06:30 PM   #12
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Sounds good. And if the small box won't hold at least 2-4 pounds, go up to a larger one I'll still cover the return shipping.
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Old March 19, 2013, 06:35 PM   #13
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It should. 73 .223 cases weigh a pound. I should be able to fit 200 pretty easy. Not all will be as gruesome as I showed. If it doesn't fit though I will go up the next size. Interested in seeing how well it does.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Not that hard, everybody offering reloadable .40 brass I let them know I am looking, so far I have about 200rds of brass and no reloading kit yet
I have probably 400 or 500 (however many will fill up a 1 gallon ziplock bag anyway) that I'd gladly trade for something I can use (.45 Colt, .45 ACP, .223) or even a small amount of cash.
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Old March 22, 2013, 11:25 PM   #15
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I load the tumbler I use with stainless shot to polish and 'harden' my silver jewelry. The stainless shot will clean everything but the firescale left by the torch.

But, remember the longer the brass is hammered by the stainless the harder it becomes. You might need to anneal your brass more often
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Old March 22, 2013, 11:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
But, remember the longer the brass is hammered by the stainless the harder it becomes. You might need to anneal your brass more often
I'm curious how much hardening is really occurring with the stainless steel pins, though. The individual pins themselves are very small (about .0035" by .25") and extremely light. The wetted pins have the consistency of a sludge or slurry, and there's really no "impact" going on.

I couldn't find any videos of polishing brass in a Thumler's with a clear cover, but here's one of someone tumbling pennies in one, to give you an idea of the motion involved. Note that there's not nearly as much material inside the tumbler when polishing brass, because five pounds of steel pins takes up a lot less space than the five pounds of aquarium gravel he's using. Plus, he's got two full quarts of pennies in there, which takes up a lot more space than two pounds of brass.

EDIT - Found a video after all.
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Old March 23, 2013, 07:54 AM   #17
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I didn't realize there was that much water involved. I always thought it was just enough to keep it wet.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
I didn't realize there was that much water involved. I always thought it was just enough to keep it wet.
I was surprised too, but the mix is actually mostly water, both by weight and by volume. The tumbler has a 15-pound capacity, and the standard mix is eight pounds of water, five pounds of pins, and two pounds of brass. By volume, it's 231 cubic inches of water, about 17 cubic inches of pins, and 6.5 cubic inches of brass.

I think you need that much water so that you can have sufficient quantities of soap and citric acid without the concentrations being too high. Even with a gallon of water and only moderately-dirty brass, the water comes out a very dark grey, almost black.
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Old March 24, 2013, 09:41 AM   #19
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First batch is in the tumbler!

schmellba99's brass got here yesterday, and the first two pounds of it are tumbling away now.

Here's a "group shot", after the depriming:



These two were probably the most-corroded of the bunch, so I left their primers in place for easy identification later:



Here are a dozen picked at random to show the case heads:



And the same dozen flipped over (not in the same order as the previous shot):



I'll grab a handful out of the tumbler after four hours just to document progress, and then go from there.
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Old March 24, 2013, 09:59 AM   #20
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This sounds pretty cool, I would like to see a short video of the tumbler in action. 15#'s of material seems like a LOT of stuff in a tumbler
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Old March 24, 2013, 10:07 AM   #21
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
This sounds pretty cool, I would like to see a short video of the tumbler in action. 15#'s of material seems like a LOT of stuff in a tumbler
Most (eight pounds) of the fifteen pounds is water - there's only five pounds of stainless pins and two pounds of brass.

I don't have a clear cover for my Thumler's, but post #16 has links to two YouTube videos. The first video has a LOT more "stuff" in it, though - two full quarts of pennies, and five pounds of gravel media (which takes up a lot more space than five pounds of stainless steel pins). The second video is probably pretty close to the recipe I'm using.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:11 PM   #22
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i have to see the results of the 45 acp brass.
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Old March 24, 2013, 01:14 PM   #23
ScottRiqui
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Okay - four hours down. I opened the tumbler, grabbed a dozen cases, rinsed and dried them, and took pictures. By dumb luck, I got one of the two "super nasty" pieces that still had its primer in place. It's at the bottom-left of each of these pictures.

In general, the brass is a LOT cleaner already. It's much smoother, and there's even a bit of shine coming out, although the cases are still pretty dark. The insides of the cases and primer pockets are a lot cleaner, although I'm hoping they get even better with more time in the tumbler.

When I was done taking pictures, I tossed the cases back in the tumbler, buttoned it back up and continued with the tumbling - I didn't change out the water, soap or Lemishine. I'll give it another four hours and then take more pictures.





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Old March 24, 2013, 01:19 PM   #24
ScottRiqui
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Quote:
i have to see the results of the 45 acp brass.
Sorry - No one's sent me any .45 ACP brass to test, and I don't have any here that's "nasty" enough to be a good experimental batch.
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Old March 24, 2013, 05:10 PM   #25
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And here's the brass after eight hours. Still some improvement, but I'm wondering if the soap and acid in the solution might be depleted by now. The brass is getting very clean, and has a good shine, but there's still an overall 'dark' staining. The piece of nickel-plated brass that was among the random dozen I pulled is looking much better - almost new. The primer pockets and insides of the cases continue to clean up. At this point, I wouldn't have any problem loading these up.





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