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Old December 8, 2009, 09:40 PM   #1
ShootUmUp
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Case cleaning

I need feedback on how clean do the inside of the cases need to be, and what is the best and quickest way to clean them.
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Old December 8, 2009, 09:54 PM   #2
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A few things are missing in your post.

1. What type of cases are you talking about a) rifle b) pistol or c) both.
2. What are you going to use the cases for a) general target b) hunting or c) Long distance compition.
3. What type of equipment do you have a) tumbler b) ultrasonic c) none of the above.
4. How many are you cleaning at a time a) 50 or less b) 200 or less c) 1000s of cases.

Each would have a different answer.

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Old December 8, 2009, 09:58 PM   #3
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I just toss my .308's and .40's in the tumbler for an hour or so. The outsides sparkle, I haven't found any great need for the insides to be shiny like new.
I don't compete (yet) but my groups are plenty tiny enough for me (.5" or less average for 5 shots.)
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Old December 9, 2009, 06:31 AM   #4
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Cleaning cases

My bad. Pistol brass 9mm, .45, and .38/.357.
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Old December 9, 2009, 08:38 AM   #5
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If you're tumbling them and the outsides are clean, the insides are fine.

The insides won't be shiny, but so long as you don't have debris hanging on the inside of the case, it will function fine.
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Old December 9, 2009, 11:42 AM   #6
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There is no reason for cleaning the insides from the standpoint of producing functioning ammunition. But on another forum, a former Aberdeen Proving Grounds employee posted some good evidence that carbon, which hardens over time after being left in the case and primer pocket, could contribute significantly to barrel wear. This was in the context of high power rifle barrels, which last through in a lot fewer rounds than pistol barrels do. He kept a bottle of Ed's Red with him at the range and used a Q-tip to wet the inside of each case neck with it as he picked them up. ER is not a bad carbon softener, so this kept carbon from ever hardening. He was later using short-clipped stainless wire media in a rotary tumbler with soapy water for case cleaning, which apparently got the primer pockets scrubbed out. He mentioned the observation that if you decap a fired case at the range while it is still warm, a lot more of the primer residue just falls out because the carbon in it hasn't had time to harden. I can't recall if he makes a regular practice of decapping there, but it wouldn't be hard with a hand press and a universal decapping die.

There are a number of folks using ultrasonic cleaners to accomplish the same complete cleaning. Getting fouling out of the neck should tend to improve bullet pull consistency, which contributes to accuracy.
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Old December 9, 2009, 03:38 PM   #7
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I caught on to a technique that works for me. I found the info on line.
After tumbling or annealing I drop the cases in a tub of "C L R". CLR is a strong solution for removing calcium, lime, & rust. It shines the exterior and loosens and removes the carbon from the inside. I (want) to think I get greater accuracy also. Be sure the entire case is submerged or they come out spotty looking. I let them soak for an hour or two then rinse with water. After they are dry I tap the neck end on my bench. A bunch of stuff carbon is expelled.
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Old December 9, 2009, 03:44 PM   #8
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Nick, I use a nylon bore brush on the case necks to remove any carbon/dirt. Just give the brush 1-2 drops of oil and when resizing they pull over the expander ball/button like nothing flat. Very easy and I do not have to worry about pulling the necks out of shape.
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Old December 9, 2009, 04:32 PM   #9
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I went to carbide expander balls long ago just to avoid neck lubing, but I think what you're saying is that, after brushing, the standard expander with lube will tend to scrape the crud clear? An interesting thought.

If you are interested in the investigation of carbon by the former Aberdeen Proving Grounds gun tester and incident investigator, scroll down to post #25 in this thread at the Shooter's Forum.
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Old December 11, 2009, 06:28 AM   #10
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Case cleaning

Very good info. Tkofoid I was wondering if the CLR has ammonia it it? I have read that ammonia is bad for brass.
I tried a little bit of steel wool on a short piece of wooden dowel and a small cordless drill. It worked pretty good on the badly carbon-ed cases. A little slow but if i were in a hurry I guess I would be buying ammo instead of reloading. lol
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Old December 11, 2009, 09:14 AM   #11
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Stainless steel tumbler media

Where can I find some stainless steel media? Is there a particular spec for the type that I should use for tumbling brass cases (e.g., wire diameter or length)?

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Old December 11, 2009, 06:53 PM   #12
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Shootemup.... I don't know if CLR contains ammonia...I simply ran across the idea from an experienced benchrester. I thought if it's good enuf for him,,it's good enuf for me. It sure cleans em up.
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Old December 11, 2009, 07:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Where can I find some stainless steel media?
That was exactly my 1st thought when I read it. What about aluminum? Aluminum powder? Shavings? Or stainless steel shavings, from a machine shop, possibly? That particular post said short-cut stainless wire, but I'd say there's a better way to obtain fine or finer pieces of metals (stainless or aluminum) in bulk, and possibly quite cheap. I'd be willing to try it. Absolutely.


Here's what I found on the Ingredients of CLR...
Quote:
Main Ingredients
The main ingredients in CLR are water, gluconic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, surfactants, glycolic acid and sulfamic acid.
At this website, found with a search of, "CLR Ingredients"
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Old December 11, 2009, 10:44 PM   #14
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Just wastin time. Cleaning the inside of the cases is a waste of time. Tumbling your brass is good enough. Just make sure the cases are empty of media before you attempt to load them.
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Old December 12, 2009, 12:00 PM   #15
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Inside case cleaning

See my other post.
Steel shot of the correct diamiter, mixed with regular media should work.
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Old December 12, 2009, 12:34 PM   #16
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CLR does not contain ammonia..It surely cleans!
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Old December 12, 2009, 02:00 PM   #17
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Do not use shavings from a brake lathe! I tried that. It scratches the cra* out of the brass case. It seems to work just like sand does.
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Old December 12, 2009, 08:14 PM   #18
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OK, I have Googled "stainless steel tumbing media" and got 16,100 hits. After reading some of them, I figured out that the media people call it "shot" even when it is wire or other very non-spherical shapes. (So much for English being a concise language.) It seems that there are a lot of grades with respect to size and shape. It is hard to figure out which is the best for cleaning brass cases. But, it does seem that it can give a polished surface on jewelry. It also seems that it is most often sold in 10 lb minimum lots for something like $200-$300. It also seems that it is supposed to be used wet.

I really don't need 10 lbs, and am not sure that I would use it wet (but can in my Thumbler).

Anybody actually using stainless media that can offer some hands-on advice?

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Old December 13, 2009, 07:53 PM   #19
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Lots of great ideas again. I certainly will try the CLR and if I can find someone with a little extra steel shot I will try that too. The best thing that I have tried, that worked great, is and idea I read from a post a few weeks ago. I mixed corn cob with walnut and some Dillon Rapid Polish 209. Man that really worked! The stainless steel media is a too much money for me to give a try.
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Old December 13, 2009, 11:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
I tried that. It scratches the cra* out of the brass case
Yeah...I thought about that yesterday. I got to thinkin' about it, and realized that aluminum or stainless shavings would likely eat the brass, and probably quick-like. Ah well, treated corn cob has been workin' great for me...don't fix it if it ain't broke...
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Old December 14, 2009, 07:53 AM   #21
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I can't say that I've ever used CLR. I'm sure my wife has. But then, she doesn't clean brass casings. Do you use it full strength, or diluted? I have a rotary, rubber-lined tumbler that I rarely use, that may work well with CLR as a wash for my brass. That is, after running them through the vibrator with walnut media. Any comments on this application? Thanks.

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Old December 14, 2009, 08:32 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootUmUp
what is the best and quickest way to clean them. ....
Pistol brass 9mm, .45, and .38/.357.
Whatever you do, don't throw them all in the tumbler at once thinking it will be quicker. You'll wind up with small cases jammed into the .45's and practically cemented in with media. Of those three, the 9mm can be cleaned with the .38 and .357 cases but the .45's will have to be cleaned by themselves. If there's any way to nest one case inside another a vibratory or rotary case cleaner will find it.
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Old December 14, 2009, 08:35 PM   #23
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I use the CLR full strength. allow the cases to soak up to two hours totally submerged then shake rattle and roll the container before dumping out the CLR. Submerge the brass in clean water. Rattle them around good so the water gets in all around. To dry, I place the brass on a cookie sheet and place in a 200 degree oven for about five minutes. The result is amasing.
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Old December 15, 2009, 05:11 AM   #24
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Quote:
ER is not a bad carbon softener
hmmm carbon is an element, the stuff of diamonds. What is in Ed's Red that would disolve elemental carbon ?

Is the Ed's Red actually dissolving some of the brass to loosen the carbon from the inside case wall ? I noted it has a bunch or acids in it, so natually there would be no ammonia. However I would be concerned with all the acids on the brass.

I think calcium is also an undissolvable element, so I'm leary of using CLR on brass cases also. If any sort of softening, thinning, or errosion to the brass is part of the cleaning process, it does not seem good to me. Before doing this, you might want to check with a local high school chemistry teacher by showing the list of ingredients and the object it is to be used on.
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Old December 15, 2009, 07:47 AM   #25
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ER is not CLR

Hook686,

You are confusing two different things. ER is "Ed's Red" and is a home-brew of 4 different organic solvents. It will not attack brass. CLR is a commercial product that contains the mixture of acids listed in a post above. It probably does have some chemical affect on the surface of the brass, but limited exposure may keep that effect to an insignificant level for reloading purposes.

With respect to "high-school chemistry", the "carbon deposits" that we are dealing with are not elemental carbon or elemental calcium. Elemental calcium is actually a shiny metal, and elemental carbon can be either soft black graphite or hard clear diamond. Graphite is a lubricant that some of us use to lubricate case necks when we reload, while diamond is so hard that it would scratch even the hardest tungsten carbide or titanium carbide dies. The hard black stuff in our barrrels and cases is none of the above. It is a mixture of various chemical compounds that have carbon and calcium chemically combined with each other and also with other elements. For example, "lime" is the compound "calcium carbonate" which is a molecule that combines calcium, carbon and oxygen. The pure form of that compound is a white crusty material that CRL is intended to dissolve. There is probably some of that compound mixed in with a bunch of others in that hard black deposit we see in our cases. The black deposits also contain other carbon compounds that include elements from the gun powder and the primer mix, as well as powdered glass from the primer mix.

It is not necessary to dissolve all of the compounds in the mixture in order to remove it from the case or barrel. Dissolving some of the compounds can loosen the rest enough to get it off the metal surface. Or, some chemicals can get between the deposits and metalic surface and loosen its grip without dissolving the deposit. Roughly speaking, CLR does the first, while ER does the second.

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