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Old March 24, 2013, 05:22 PM   #26
Beentown71
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You should have some nasty .223 anytime. I thought mine was bad but some of that above was terrible.

I am still deciding on what tumbler to buy. It was going to be a Berrys but this may change my mind. How much is the stainless media?
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Old March 24, 2013, 05:30 PM   #27
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Five pounds of the media is $45 from www.stainlesstumblingmedia.com, but as long as you're careful not to lose too many pins, it should last you forever.

The whole setup, with rotary tumbler, media, media separator, and Lemishine is about $300 shipped. It's pricey, but with the "normally dirty" brass I've done so far, it comes out almost indistinguishable from new brass in about four hours. Plus, the tumbler is fairly quiet, there's no dust, and I should never have to buy media again.
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Old March 24, 2013, 09:57 PM   #28
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After Twelve Hours

And here it is after twelve hours. At this point, the brass is clean and smooth, inside and out, but it's still a little bit 'dark'; you'd never mistake it for new. As you can tell, the water coming out of the tumbler was *filthy*.

I'm still curious if the sheer amount of corrosion on this brass overwhelmed the capability of the soap and citric acid in the solution. So after I took these pictures, I replaced the solution in the tumbler with fresh water, soap and Lemishine. I'm going to let it run until tomorrow morning (about eight more hours) and see if there's any more improvement. Even if there isn't, this brass has still been "saved" - compare these pictures to the "before" shots earlier in the thread.







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Old March 25, 2013, 06:56 AM   #29
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HERE'S what I was waiting for!

Replacing the solution did the trick! Evidently, once the soap and acid have been depleted, additional time spent tumbling only gives minimal benefits. But with fresh water/soap/Lemishine and about seven more hours, here are the final results:

"After" group shot:








Last edited by ScottRiqui; March 25, 2013 at 07:09 AM.
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Old March 25, 2013, 06:57 AM   #30
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And do you remember those two extra-nasty pieces that I left primed so I could find them later?



Well, here they are now!







I still have about a pound of schmellba99's brass left, so when I tumble it this afternoon, I'm going to follow a different schedule. I'm only going to tumble it for two hours, then I'm going to replace the soap/water/acid solution and tumble it for two more hours. I'm betting that I can get to the "like new" stage a LOT faster if I replace the solution when it gets nasty.
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Old March 25, 2013, 07:17 AM   #31
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Wow, that's impressive!
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Old March 25, 2013, 07:59 AM   #32
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are the primer holes getting bigger or is it the camera/reflection/optical illusion?

By the way, they look incredible!!!
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Old March 25, 2013, 08:15 AM   #33
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are the primer holes getting bigger or is it the camera/reflection/optical illusion?
It's not the same 12 pieces of brass in every picture. Some of the cases just have larger flash holes than others.

I was actually pretty surprised at the variance in flash holes among the different cases; some are nice and clean and centered in the case, while others are slightly off-center and look like they were made with an icepick. I guess they all work, though.
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Old March 25, 2013, 08:27 AM   #34
schmellba99
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Well, crap.

Now I need to go out and get me a stainless tumbler. Vibratory tumbling never would have been able to do this.

I simply cannot believe that is the same brass I sent you.
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Old March 25, 2013, 08:46 AM   #35
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I simply cannot believe that is the same brass I sent you.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I opened up the tumbler this morning. I figured the fresh solution would make a difference, but I wasn't expecting that much of a change.

I've got about 20 ounces of your nasty brass left - I'm curious to see how it does with two hours of tumbling, swapping out the solution and then tumbling it for two hours more. I'd like to find the "sweet spot" for tumbling time so that the cruddy brass comes out looking good, but doesn't have to spend forever in the tumbler to get there.

Considering that the results after four, eight and twelve hours in the same solution weren't dramatically different, I'm suspecting that the soap and acid were 'used up' pretty early in the first four hours.

Last edited by ScottRiqui; March 25, 2013 at 08:53 AM.
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Old March 25, 2013, 10:03 AM   #36
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That did great. Wonder how it will do on the extremely tarnished stuff I sent? That is pretty amazing results.
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Old March 25, 2013, 07:34 PM   #37
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Here's the last of the .40 S&W brass. It came out as shiny as the first batch, after only four hours. Evidently, the trick is to replenish the solution early on in the process, once it's cleaned the bulk of the corrosion and gotten filthy. Otherwise, the depleted soap & acid don't do much more, no matter how long you keep tumbling.

The sequence for this batch was two hours tumbling, then replace the solution and tumble for two more hours.

Tomorrow - .223 brass!


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Old March 25, 2013, 11:19 PM   #38
schmellba99
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You are killing me man, killing me!
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Old March 26, 2013, 05:21 AM   #39
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You are killing me man, killing me!
LOL - Don't be surprised if you find yourself running your fingers through it like a troll with his gold!
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:29 AM   #40
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similar experience

Hey Scott, Just had to chimb in. I love my thumbler!

Of course the nastier the brass the better the payback. What I like best about the outcome is the grit I'm avoiding in my dies. I use a universal decaping die for all my brass so they never see their standard dies till they are cleaned... that, and I can see at a glance which cases I've charged in the blocks since those without powder are shining back at you all the way from the bottom, even in the larger rifle cases, just like new brass. If you use light charges in some of your reloads (for casters shooting lower velocities) that can be an additional safety factor against double charges.

This month I cleaned 1600 cases (pistol, revolver and rifle - ten calibers or so) for my best friends widow to get presentable for sale. Man, what a difference. I did find that water makes a difference in the outcome. With my water here in Oklahoma, on tablespoon of dawn is sufficient; in Idaho, with my well water it takes 2 tbls.

I never mix calibers with necks that will slip inside the other... for obvious reasons.

That was a good idea to change out the water for really dirty/tarnished stuff. I never did that but can see it wouldn't take but a minute and would be worth it. I usually let my normal stuff run for 4 hours and the dirty stuff for six. I've never tried under four hours so who knows, maybe that is overkill??
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 45Colt Brass before tumbler (2).jpg (230.2 KB, 90 views)
File Type: jpg 45Colt Brass after tumbling (2).jpg (234.1 KB, 87 views)
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:39 AM   #41
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That was a good idea to change out the water for really dirty/tarnished stuff. I never did that but can see it wouldn't take but a minute and would be worth it. I usually let my normal stuff run for 4 hours and the dirty stuff for six. I've never tried under four hours so who knows, maybe that is overkill??
That was actually the biggest lesson I learned while doing this. Two hours followed by changing the solution and then two more hours did a better job than just letting it run for twelve hours in the same filthy water.

Oh, and that .45 brass looks great!
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:15 PM   #42
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And now for the .223 brass!

Here's the first of Beentown71's .223 brass.

The group shot:



Again, I left the primers in a few of the dirtiest ones so I could identify them later:





I've got them tumbling now, and after two hours I'll check their progress and replace the solution with fresh water/soap/acid, then two more hours of tumbling. I suspect they'll be done by then, but we'll see.
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Old March 26, 2013, 04:18 PM   #43
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.223 after two hours

After only two hours, I would almost be willing to call the .223 brass "done", except that I think they'll get a little better yet, and some of the dirtier pieces are still a little bit stained.

Here are some I pulled out of the tumbler - the two in the front are still-primed pieces that started off the dirtiest:



And a view of the primer pockets:



So now they're all back in the tumbler with fresh solution for two more hours.
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Old March 26, 2013, 06:57 PM   #44
Beentown71
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Re: Anyone have some really NASTY brass they want cleaned?

Thumlers should be paying you commission. Going to save my pennies for one. You are using the model "B" correct?
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:00 PM   #45
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First batch of .223 finished!

Here it is. Total tumbling time was only four hours (tumble for two, replace the nasty solution, then tumble for two more).

The group shot:



The four worst ones that I left primed, along with two others that didn't turn out as bright as the others because they're steel cases, not brass:



A closer view of the primer pockets:



And the case heads from the four ugliest cases:


Last edited by ScottRiqui; March 26, 2013 at 08:41 PM.
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:03 PM   #46
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You've got mail...

Man-o-man I want one of those polishing rigs!!

But $300 would have to come out of my gun fund, so I'm just going to send my brass to you for polishing instead! LOL
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:03 PM   #47
ScottRiqui
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Thumlers should be paying you commission. Going to save my pennies for one. You are using the model "B" correct?
Funny you mention that, but someone just told stainlesstumblingmedia.com about this thread, and they're sending me a hat and a t-shirt!

Yes, I've got the one that STM sells - the "B" model with the high-speed (3000 RPM) motor.

Last edited by ScottRiqui; March 27, 2013 at 03:13 PM.
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:20 PM   #48
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I'm guessing SS media can't be used in just any tumbler?
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Old March 26, 2013, 07:34 PM   #49
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I'm guessing SS media can't be used in just any tumbler?
Yes, you have to use a rotary tumbler, and one with flat sides is probably best. If you were to try to use it in a vibratory tumbler, I suspect the brass would all just float to the top and stay there.
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Old March 26, 2013, 08:01 PM   #50
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Scott, great thread, very informative.

Are you able to tell if there is any apparent structural weaknesses in any of the cases after they were tumbled?

I am curious how deep the grime and corrosion have infested the cases, whether it is just pretty much on the surface even though it looks so nasty, or if it goes deep enough into the cases such that when they come out nice and shiny, they are weaker / thinner structurally. And if so, if it could be to the point where they could rupture if reloaded.
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