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Old October 10, 2018, 02:54 PM   #1
Shadow9mm
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enough tumbling?

So, how much do I need to tumble brass. Everything I read seems to say it needs to be shiny, the shinier the better. Why? Does shinier really mean cleaner? How clean does brass really need to be? at what point are you polishing the brass and no longer cleaning off dirt?

Currently I am doing a 30min tumble in walnut with a little nufinish before resizing and trimming. After I am doing about 2hrs in walnut with nu-finish. I stopped using corn cob a couple years ago after it was taking 8hrs to run a batch of 9mm brass with fresh corncob. My though was the brass needs to be clean, and walnut does it faster. It is not perfect gleaming new brass, but it runs just fine. I am honestly wondering if I am tumbling too much and need to drop down to a 1hr final tumble.

thoughts?


update 10-10-2018

did a little testing, dirty, vs 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120min tumbles. brass randomly pulled from tumbler. I'm thinking 90min for a full clean, 120 seems about the same.
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Old October 10, 2018, 03:02 PM   #2
dallasb
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Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
So, how much do I need to tumble brass. Everything I read seems to say it needs to be shiny, the shinier the better. Why? Does shinier really mean cleaner? How clean does brass really need to be? at what point are you polishing the brass and no longer cleaning off dirt?

Currently I am doing a 30min tumble in walnut with a little nufinish before resizing and trimming. After I am doing about 2hrs in walnut with nu-finish. I stopped using corn cob a couple years ago after it was taking 8hrs to run a batch of 9mm brass with fresh corncob. My though was the brass needs to be clean, and walnut does it faster. It is not perfect gleaming new brass, but it runs just fine. I am honestly wondering if I am tumbling too much and need to drop down to a 1hr final tumble.

thoughts?
It just needs to be clean. Shiny isnt a requirement. Personally I wet tumble with SS pins, but this is due to the dust given off by vibratory and i got tired of cleaning the primer pockets.

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Old October 10, 2018, 03:21 PM   #3
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Never had a dust issue. I have tossed in a dryer sheet every so often and it seems to collect a lot.
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Old October 10, 2018, 03:28 PM   #4
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I pick up a lot range brass there now seems to be a surplus since Trump is in office. So normally I put it all on the sonic cleaner for about 20 minutes than dry it. I clean it this way before depriming it so that my dies do not get scratched. Afterwards I just put it on a tumbler for about 20 to 30 minutes max. Polishing the brass for me is so that any small aberrations that may make the brass unusable shows up to the naked eye. But in more than 50 years of shooting, pretty shiny brass and dull brass shoots the same.
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Old October 10, 2018, 03:35 PM   #5
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In reality, dirty brass loads & shoots just the same as shiny polished brass. You don't even need to clean primer pockets & you'll never notice the difference.

But the idea is to get the brass clean enough to prolong your dies & clean enough after sizing to remove lube & loose carbon that could make its way into your rifle chamber.

Before the tumbling craze started, I use to swish my fired brass around in big jar with water, soap & vinegar. Dried it, lubed it, sized it & tapped the case head down on the bench to shake any loose carbon out of the pocket. These were then wipes with a paper towel to remove the lube. That's it - case prep done. Prime, load & shoot!
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Old October 10, 2018, 04:11 PM   #6
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Before the tumbling craze started, I use to swish my fired brass around in big jar with water, soap & vinegar.
I never found it necessary to have a formula, I understand it was cool to use the NRA mixture but it that worked better than straight vinegar I would not be able to deal with the results.

Before vinegar I use some bad stuff. the difference between the bad stuff and vinegar could be measured in time. I used 5% vinegar for 15 minutes maximum, the bad stuff I limited the time to less than 2 minutes, after removing from the bad stuff I rinsed the cases twice in boiling water.

One more time: I only use vinegar for the worst of cases to reduce tumbling time.

And then there are show off cases, when I want to show off I use a spinner, the spinner saves time when loading 20 cases.

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Old October 10, 2018, 04:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by BumbleBug View Post
In reality, dirty brass loads & shoots just the same as shiny polished brass. You don't even need to clean primer pockets & you'll never notice the difference.

But the idea is to get the brass clean enough to prolong your dies & clean enough after sizing to remove lube & loose carbon that could make its way into your rifle chamber.

Before the tumbling craze started, I use to swish my fired brass around in big jar with water, soap & vinegar. Dried it, lubed it, sized it & tapped the case head down on the bench to shake any loose carbon out of the pocket. These were then wipes with a paper towel to remove the lube. That's it - case prep done. Prime, load & shoot!
very interesting, i have wanted to try wet tumbling as i though soap and water getting sloshed around and lifting and removing the dirt would work better. My main problem is wet tumbling seemed quite expensive compared to dry.
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Old October 10, 2018, 05:09 PM   #8
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for several years all I did to my brass was wash like Bumblebug. I went with wet stainless when I caught the Franklin rotary on sale for 130 bucks shipped and I had a little extra cash. I do like my primer pockets clean and my primers well seated. More consistent velocitys for LR rifle
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Old October 10, 2018, 05:36 PM   #9
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I don't remember how many years... no less than 10, maybe it was 15. For my first 10-15 years of handloading, I didn't clean brass in any way whatsoever.

I most definitely prefer working with clean brass. But my position is that there is either NO ANSWER to your question, or there is only one correct answer: whatever you decide
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Old October 10, 2018, 06:17 PM   #10
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In reality, you can wipe a case clean and its fine.

However, I LIKE shinny brass. I don't like smoked brass.

Now my case lube and neck lube are messy, so the run through the tumbler gets that off so I don't have to wipe it, and its SHINNY.

Then there is the crooked cake my Grandmother made (Grandad put the shelf back in the oven wrong, poor Gran pa)

Grandma was horrified. No German Housewax makes crooked cakes (slanted as it were). My suggestion to fill it in with frosting on the deep end did not go down well.

I think it got sliced in half and then swapped so it was level (you also do not throw food away in a German household!)

Did that slanted cake as was going to taste bad? Sometimes its the appearance that counts.

My wife (who probably cold do rows like her dad) was not allowed to do farm rows where the fields cloud be seen from the road.

Yep, a Farmer is JUDGED by how straight his rows are.

If I see someone with dirty brass I sneer. Peaseant I think.

Shiny brass is a reflection (pun) of the workmanship, but shiny brass alone is not the end goal. No reloader worth his salt (bullets? Powder) is seen with dirty brass going into his gun. -
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Old October 10, 2018, 06:55 PM   #11
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I don't go crazy making my brass like new, I just want them clean so they don't scuff the dies... after all, when you shoot them, they just get dirty again....
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Old October 10, 2018, 08:08 PM   #12
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I tumble range pick up, and my own collected brass until it’s clean...........could be 30 minutes, could be several hours.

I just need it to be clean, not bright and shiney as new. I tumble in walnut or corn cob to clean off powder residue, dirt, and to smooth any oxidation the range brass may have. I don’t care if it’s tarnished, as long as it’s not dragging debris into my dies, or creating feeding issues from a rough case.

I’ll also tumble after loading to remove any lube, but that’s usually only for 15-20 minutes.
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Old October 11, 2018, 07:11 AM   #13
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These days I use a rotary tumbler with stainless steel pins for range pick up brass. (Outdoor range, with dirt filled, and water spotted cases from the barrel.) I wash the brass first to get the majority of the mud, and crud off so that the water in the tumbler will clean them.

For removing case lube I do still use a vibratory tumbler with walnut media to clean the case lube off. I used the vibratory for everything for years. I switched to the wet tumbling mainly due to allergies.

When I dry tumble I tend to let it run for about 2 hours or so. More than that does not do anything to make them look better as they were cleaned before I lubed them.
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Old October 11, 2018, 09:26 AM   #14
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The brass should be clean, how shiney it is is nothing more than your personal preference.

To the dust issue. I started using a splash of mineral sprits in my walnut media. I like this combo alot, it cuts dust to nothing and seems to speed polishing by just a little bit.
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Old October 11, 2018, 11:34 AM   #15
Don P
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The only thing tumbling brass does is reduce the wear and tare on your reloading dies
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Old October 11, 2018, 12:09 PM   #16
F. Guffey
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The only thing tumbling brass does is reduce the wear and tare on your reloading dies
I agree I did not agree with R. Lee when he said tumbling/cleaning brass was not necessary. There is a chance R. Lee never read responses typed out by bench resters and reloaders on all of these forums because the insist the case is driven forward with the impact of the firing pin and once newbies began to be impressed with bench resters they pile it on. One of them insisted the firing pin drives the case to the shoulder of the chamber and shortens the case an additional .005". To add insult to injury to the chamber the primer powder shortened the case from the shoulder to the case head an additional .005".

I want nothing between my die and case but air and lube, When I fire my cases I want nothing between the case and the chamber but air; not a lot of air. I understand the case is brass and the case is embeddable so if the dirt, grit and grime is embedded into the case when fired there is no quick fix.

So that puts me into the category of fans that want to limit case travel; and then there is how much travel and how. We will never settle down enough to be able to discuss those two; but for me there is nothing entertaining about closing a bolt on a dirty case and then pulling the trigger.

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Old October 11, 2018, 01:11 PM   #17
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"...Does shinier really mean cleaner?..." Nope. Brass doesn't need to be shiney at all. It needs to be clean. And that's usually just an hour or two in your tumbler.
"...wanted to try wet tumbling..." Adds another step. Isn't a difficult step, but you need to dry the cases. Takes 15 minutes on a cookie sheet in your oven set on warm.
"...water, soap & vinegar..." It's the vinegar that does the cleaning. Vinegar being a mild acid.
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Old October 11, 2018, 01:29 PM   #18
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I don't go crazy making my brass like new, I just want them clean so they don't scuff the dies... after all, when you shoot them, they just get dirty again....
My laugh of the morning (maybe the day)

I don't clean before I re-size. And dang it, no matter how hard I try I don't get scuffed brass from my dies!

Now my brass does not hit the ground (normaly) if it does it gets cleaned off.

Ahem, we all know dies are made of steel?

Back in Geology class, we ran tests of hardness on what will scratch what to make an assessment of what the material was. Does carbon scratch steel? Quartz in the gravel?

And in the end, I want clean and shinny brass because I like shiny. Tumbling takes the lube off so its not slimy. It all works quite nicely for me.

Shiny, scratch free and proud.
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Old October 11, 2018, 01:46 PM   #19
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I used to tumble and at the recommended period of 2 hours. I now use my ultrasonic for very bright shiny brass in 10 minutes. If brass is real messy, I will still use my tumbler first and then run it through the L&R Ultrasonic.

I shoot on my property, and it can be difficult to find the spent brass. It helps with recovery if it is very shiny and the sun reflects off it.
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Old October 11, 2018, 03:31 PM   #20
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Clean is all I really care about.

I only go for 'shiny' if it's tarnished brass.
Very little about cleaned brass will raise eyebrows like a mirror polish on dark, tarnished cases.



Heck, last week I ran some .300 Blackout for only 10 minutes, or so. It came out carbon-coated, still (very much so, as it was fired in a suppressed rifle). I wiped it off, lubed it up, and went on with reloading.
I didn't have time to wait for the tumbler. The rag was 'good enough'...
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Old October 11, 2018, 05:45 PM   #21
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Unless the brass is dirty/gritty, I'm not sure it needs to be cleaned at all. Not even the primer pockets.

I like nice, shiny ammo. It makes me feel proud of my product. That's just me.

From the range, I vibra-tumble in corn cob for about 45 minutes. If it goes an hour or longer, no biggie.

After sizing and flairing, I tumble for 1 hour, 45 minutes in ss pins. They come out bright and shiny. That's how I like it.

So really, it's all about what you want to do.
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Old October 11, 2018, 09:49 PM   #22
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ok - so - zero chemists in this bunch to be sure.....

Acid removes tarnish and oxidation and, if left to soak too long, removes zinc which can leave you with color more towards copper - this means you have softer cases because the metal alloy has changed. not good - remember to take your brass out on time and rinse.

Dish soap and stuff like carb cleaner removes oil & grime and bubbles up to lift dirt off the metal - it is a base - so if you mix dish soap with your typical tarnish remover, citric acid, lemi shine, etc, you neutralize both - don't mix.

so if you have a dirty grimy batch of dark range brass - dish soap & warm water first to get as much gunk off as possible - I use a large mouth plastic bottle for this and shake vigorously - then dump & wash - then go for tarnish removal w/ SS media in a light acid solution for 2 to 3 hour tumble - less so for clean range brass.

Some pointers on tumbling wet -

Every 5th or 6th load put in dish soap or degreaser and a piece of cloth to pick up the gunk and oil residue that has built up in your tumbler along with the dirty brass and ss media - the cloth will likely come out black - pitch it. then do a short tumble with your typical weak acid to polish and shine.

When doing a detergent run, shake by hand first, then reopen the tumbler to let off some pressure from the detergent expanding, then tumble. This will reduce leaks and extend the life of your seal gasket.

Use hot water - this will cool down during the tumble and help keep the tumbler seal tight.

Make sure to take care of the rubber seal - it should be wet and clean of any debris or media when you seal it. Hand tighten so as never to crush the seal.

The #1 reason for clean brass is it is the BEST way to enable you to see any cracks or flaws in the brass, especially inside the bottom of the shell and in the clean primer pocket.

#2 is clean brass is less wear & tear on your weapon's chamber and your reloading dies. One grain of sand held on a case by a spot of case lube or bullet lube can scratch your steel. Do it enough and you'll wear more than if you'd always used cleaned brass.

And lastly - aesthetics
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Old October 12, 2018, 06:47 AM   #23
F. Guffey
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I don't go crazy making my brass like new, I just want them clean so they don't scuff the dies... after all, when you shoot them, they just get dirty again....

Quote:
My laugh of the morning (maybe the day)
I know a lot of compulsive gigglers; I do not believe what you said was funny, I thought it was sad. You had to ignore advise that was worthy of consideration.

The brass case in embeddable, you seem to believe you have some king of wiper system that wipes the die while being sized. The radius at the opening of the die prevents that from happening, the radius on the die forces dirt, grit and grime to be embedded into the case.

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Old October 12, 2018, 07:52 AM   #24
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I believe in different needs for different situations.

For my prone shooting with bolt action target rifles I eject onto my shooting mat. A old towel placed in the right spot can really help with that. I depin them using a universal die. After geeting the used primer out I wipe them off with a paper towel before lubing and size just as a precaution.

AR and pistol get a thorough cleaning before sizing. Also a case or bullet can also pick up grit off a concrete bench or pad, never lay a round on one before chambering until you wipe it off with a towel, barrel damage may occur.
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Old October 12, 2018, 09:25 AM   #25
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I was at the range when I was approached by an Internet reloader, he wanted to know why I wiped my rounds off before chambering. I explained to him that was the last opportunity I had before chambering them. He did not understand.

I also informed him the last case fired gets tested with the bullet of the next round to be fired when firing a rifle I was not familiar with.

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