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Old May 31, 2005, 08:25 PM   #1
Tim B.
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Brass tumbler recommendations

I new to reloading and wanted to next purchase a tumbler to clean my 38 special brass. I am interested in any recommendations.

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Old May 31, 2005, 08:30 PM   #2
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Midway sells a good vibrating brass cleaner. There is considerable conversation about the difference between a tumbler and a vibrating cleaner. I like my Vibrating cleaner. I use a 50/50 mix of corn media and walnut. and a couple ounces of Flitz Brass Tumbleing/cleaning media cleaner. They make it specific for cleaning rifle and pistol brass. It has not ammonia. It really make the cases come out better than new.
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Old May 31, 2005, 09:05 PM   #3
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I've got a Frankford Arsenal tumbler. Works great. Get the tumbler itself, one deep bucket and one shallow bucket from your local hardware store. Drill holes in small bucket to act as a sifter. Viola. I've run that thing for 12+ hours a day on multiple batches with nary a hickup.
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Old May 31, 2005, 09:20 PM   #4
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I read here from someone, that a cheaper solution than buying regular media (corncob), go to the pet store and get some small animal bedding.

Well, my media was getting pretty worn and dirty, so I tried it! It works great!
The media is a good bit bigger than the regular stuff, but it works just the same, maybe even better!
Not to mention my brass now has a nice smell to it when it comes out.

The thing about the pet store stuff is: you get like 4 times as much media for like 1/2 the price.
I never really bought the treated media but maybe once, I always just dribbled a litt brass polish in there before adding brass.

I'd say go with the Frankfort Arsenal vibratory tumbler, there's not much to them, and there's only one moving part in the whole thing (the motor).
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Old June 1, 2005, 08:31 AM   #5
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Cabelas has a nice cleaner kit for a great price have been using mine for years I also use 50/50 of corn and walnut with two cap full of Dillion polish seems to work best for me.
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Old June 1, 2005, 11:29 AM   #6
Mark whiz
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The Frankfort Arsenal tumbler is probably the best buy on the market - especially when you can pick it up on sale at MidwayUSA like I did.

For media, I like to use walnut on the fresh-fired cases for a couple hours before doing anything else. Then, with pistol cases, I resize/decap them, expand the mouths, and then toss them into corncob media until they are nice & shiney. Now they're ready to load after making sure there is no media stuck in the primer flash holes.

For cheaper media, you CAN use the pet sotre stuff. I picked up a bag of Lizard Litter, which was the perfect size walnut. The corncob you get there usually is too big (or at least bigger than gun specific media) - BUT you can pick up a cheap coffee grinder at Wally World and grind it down smaller if the larger size isn't getting the job done to your satisfaction.
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Old June 1, 2005, 11:52 AM   #7
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Posts: 263 has the Frankford tumbler and tumbler kit for a good bit cheaper than Midway. Was gonna buy that until my bro said he'd go in on the Lyman 1200 Pro with me. I like it but I want to add an on/off switch to it. The tumbler kits come with media and a sifter. The Lyman has a sifter lid on the bowel. I use the lizard litter too, and usually skip the corn cob. The pet store corn got caught up real bad in 223 cases and even on 30cal ones. It's fine on 9mm up but I just skip it now. Lizard nuts get my brass clean enough in about an hour. I dont need/want to see myself in it anyway

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Old June 1, 2005, 12:23 PM   #8
Smokey Joe
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ANY vibratory tumbler!

TimB--Welcome to The Magnificent Obsession (I refer to reloading of course)!

Re tumblers--IMX there's not a nickel's worth of difference among 'em--get the cheapest one you can find. The biggest one you can find is probably too big for your use unless you are processing hundreds of .38 cases at once. It'll just require the use of a larger batch of corncob.

/Rant mode:ON/ Re "media"--BTW, that's plural: You use a polishing MEDUIM to clean your brass. A medium is a thing that does a particular job. It's Latin, so the plural is MEDIA. You hear of the broadcast media (radio and TV; therefore a correctly used plural). If you buy a sack of corncob and another sack of walnut, you bought media (2 different things to do the job of polishing/cleaning brass.) But if you only buy the corncob, you bought a sack of one medium. /Rant mode:OFF/

Re pet store walnut and corncob--they are cheaper by far, and have been reported to work just as well. When I use up my current supply of "official" tumbling media, that will be from where my new stuff comes.

I have tried a treated medium exactly once. The brass was beautifully shiny, but it had a sort of coating on it, inside and out, that I didn't like. I have gone back to using plain ground corncob medium. My brass isn't as shiny, but OTOH there is no substance adhering to it that might affect the powder burn on the inside, or the chambering on the outside of the brass. Others use treated medium and they like the result. YMMV.

I use a sifter very similar to Kayser's, and it works fine for me. Dillon and Midway both sell fancy sifters if you want to spend the $$.

Enjoy reloading!
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--Smokey Joe

Last edited by Smokey Joe; June 1, 2005 at 12:26 PM. Reason: The usual--had another thought.
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Old June 1, 2005, 01:08 PM   #9
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tumbler suggestions...

I'm new to the game as well, been doing it about 3 months now. I don't know everything there is to know but here are a few thoughts...

I bought the Lyman auto-flow from Midway. I figured it was about the same price as a tumbler + media seperator combined and it would save a step so why not. WRONG ANSWER. It is convenient but it doesn't do a great job getting all the cleaning "medium" out of the cases. A seperator would probably do a better job. It also tends to dance around when it drains the medium since it gets lighter with nothing in it. It makes a mess since the drain spout starts to dance away from the collection bucket. You still have to stick your hands into the tumbler and swirl the brass around to get all the cob out. And talk about LOUD...she really starts to scream when you take the lid off to swirl the brass.

Some guys on the 1911forms suggested 1oz mineral spirits + 1oz nu finish car polish to really make the brass shine (if you're into that). I tried it and it works wonders. I add a 50:50 mix about every third tumbling session to keep the media soaked pretty good. It also cuts my tumbling time in half.

I also like a 50:50 mix of walnut/corncob medium. One cleans better the other polishes better. Can't remember which is which but if you use both the problem is solved. Some folks have talked about using regular ole cooking rice. Some of the guys that have tried it swear by it and say it's 5x better than cob or walnut. I haven't tried it cause I got 15lbs of medium in the garage. Rice is supposed to be pretty cheap too.

Oh yeah, something else everyone forgot to tell me...don't tumble different size brass at the same time. I made the mistake of tumbling .40 & .45 brass together and it turns out the .40 fits nicely inside a .45. I had to separate and re-tumble each. After the fact it seems like common sense but it might save you a few explicatives for being such a [email protected]$$, like me.

Other than that, once you've seen one tumbler you've pretty much seen them all. Most of the larger ones will clean more brass than I could possibly shoot between tumbling sessions so unless you're shooting 10k a month a small to medium size will probably do. Good luck.
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Old June 1, 2005, 02:04 PM   #10
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Lyman makes a funnel that has grooves in it already.
I have a wastebasket that the funnel sits in perfectly.
I put the funnel on the wastebasket, and dump the media and brass in it.
I use treated walnut, if it matters.)
Sort through it with your hands so theres no media falling through the screen, give it a few shakes.
Then I move the funnel to the top of the tumbler, (I drilled a hole through the middle of the screen.) put on ear protection, then plug the tumbler in, holding it with my feet (You'll find out why if you try it!)
That shakes loose 90% of the media, just leaving one piece in the flash hole, instead of 1/2 full cases of treated media.
I kind of work the brass for a few seconds to re-orient the cases so that the media can fall out (The brass all stands up when it vibrates.).
Unplug, and dump into a long, slender akro-bin.
Total cost, tumbler+media+polish+$5 wastebasket+$10 lyman funnel.
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