The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 14, 2018, 07:05 AM   #1
rebs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 10, 2012
Posts: 3,822
ultrasonic vs SS wet cleaning ?

does ultrasonic case cleaning work as well as the stainless steel wet cleaning ?
rebs is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 08:37 AM   #2
m&p45acp10+1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 3, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,870
It can be faster as the cycles are much shorter. A few minutes as in 2 to 5 minutes verses at least 1-3 hours for the pins. I like the pins better myself. Less fuss, and it works very well. I tried one of the small HF sonic cleaners. It did work well. I was using it to see if I wanted to spend more for a very large model that did a bulk amount of brass. In the end stainless pin in the FART won for me.

With it being this close to Christmas someone is bound to be offering it on sale.
__________________
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
m&p45acp10+1 is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 08:46 AM   #3
USSR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 14, 2017
Location: Finger Lakes Region of NY
Posts: 762
Quote:
does ultrasonic case cleaning work as well as the stainless steel wet cleaning ?
Short answer: No. It will not clean primer pockets as well as wet tumbling with pins will, and the biggest thing it has going against it is the high price for it's small capacity. The Frankfort Arsenal Rotary Tumbler for about $160 is the only way to go.

Don
__________________
NRA Life Member
NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor
USSR is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 12:17 PM   #4
TruthTellers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 22, 2016
Posts: 2,629
I bought a Hornady ultrasonic about two years ago and I'm going to go be buying Harbor Freight's dual drum rotary tumbler today. An ultrasonic is a nice piece of equipment to have, it cleans metal parts well, but brass isn't an ultrasonic's bread and butter. It can clean brass, but it can't make it look brand new like wet tumbling does.

I do think it's better than a vibratory tumbler tho, I really don't see the point in a vibratory tumbler other than it's the cheapest option for doing large batches of brass. An ultrasonic is a no dust and less mess solution and it takes 20-30 minutes to do a batch of say 100 rounds of brass. 2-5 minutes is NOT enough time to do any brass cleaning in an ultrasonic.

The extremely large ultrasonics, the ones you can put an AR upper into... I'm sure they're powerful, but the price is too high for what they are as a brass cleaner. If you're shooting in matches and competitions every week and want the cleanest AR possible, then they'd work, but if you're not that type of sport shooter, it's not worth getting one of those.
__________________
Any good revolver > Any good semi auto

^Not so much anymore.
TruthTellers is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 06:10 PM   #5
Unclenick
Staff
 
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 16,108
The first time I saw one of those was at a law enforcement equipment trade show. They really are meant for armorers and others having to clean guns constantly. If I won the lottery I'd have one in a heartbeat, though. I like the way an ultrasonic cleans and leaves the brass yellow but not mirror shiny. My interest is in the visibility of the brass in the grass, and too much shine actually reflects enough grass (albeit distorted) to help camouflage the brass some. A more matte brass yellow seems to be easier to spot.

Also, if you leave it long enough, primer pockets do get clean. But the number of cases I can clean at once and still get clean primer pockets is too low, so I've gone to stainless pins in the Thumbler B I bought 25 years ago.
__________________
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member and Golden Eagle
Unclenick is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 06:42 PM   #6
hounddawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2009
Posts: 2,451
If you want shiny brass and clean primer pockets rotary with pins is the best option. Judging from pics a pot of boiling water works just as well as a Ultrasonic. For the armorers see if you can find a 16 gallon steel drum, couple that up with a propane fish fryer for the best AR cleaner you will ever use. Soak the rifle in boiling water, rinse it with a garden hose, blow it dry with compressed air and apply some WD40 to the appropriate parts. Works fine, fails safe

edit - take the scope and any electronic goodies off before cleaning
__________________
“How do I get to the next level?” Well, you get to the next level by being the first one on the range and the last one to leave.” – Jerry Miculek
hounddawg is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 07:46 PM   #7
mgulino
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 2, 2017
Posts: 129
OP - The rotary cleaner with SS pins is the way to go. I never used an ultrasonic because of the low capacity. I load up the drum, top it off with water, blue dishwashing liquid (lemishine if brass is corroded or weathered) and let 'em roll. About an hour gets them very clean and shiny.

TruthTellers - I have used the Harbor Freight dual-drum wet tumbler for a couple of years. Ran 200 rounds (100 each drum) of 45ACP for about an hour this morning. They look new.
I highly recommend the HF tumbler for the price. I can load the drums and tumble while I'm working on something else. An hour is plenty of time.
mgulino is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 08:03 PM   #8
McCarthy
Junior member
 
Join Date: January 1, 2015
Posts: 312
SS pins are in an entirely different league.
McCarthy is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 08:41 PM   #9
Old 454
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 15, 2011
Location: Chesterton Ind.
Posts: 729
I clean in corn cob to get most of the crap off the cases the deprime and size and trim.. then into the ss tumbler for an hour or maybe an hour and a half... rinse and shake water off then dry with a hair dryer.. inspect cases for any water that might be there... dry again if nessasery
Old 454 is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 11:50 PM   #10
ms6852
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 3, 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,021
I use a lot of range brass so I clean a couple of hundred pieces of brass on my hornady sonic cleaner. I'll clean it for about 15 minutes and than dry it in a toaster oven for about 30 minutes. I than deprime the brass, I find that for me I have less issues with brass getting stuck to my dies or me scratching the dies because of dirt particles. Before I reload them I run them in a walnut media in the vibrator to polish a little. The only reason for the polishing is so that I can check brass as clean brass will show cracks dents, and such better. All in all if wanted to reload 200 pieces of brass from the start of cleaning it to the final part it takes less than 1 1/2 hours. Fifteen minutes in sonic cleaner, 30 minutes oven and 30 minutes in vibratory tumbler.
__________________
ONLY TWO DEFINING FORCES HAVE GIVEN UP THEIR LIVES FOR YOU. ONE IS JESUS CHRIST FOR YOUR SOUL AND THE OTHER IS THE AMERICAN SOLDIER FOR YOUR FREEDOM.
ms6852 is offline  
Old December 14, 2018, 11:57 PM   #11
Nick_C_S
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 21, 2013
Location: Taxifornia
Posts: 4,869
I considered ultrasonic. My step-daughter has an ultrasonic for jewelry. She let me put some brass in it once. They got clean, and quickly. But the primer pockets still had the "triangle" in them. Would probably go away with a longer cleaning. The brass was bright yellow, but not really shiny.

After that, I tried the ss pins and it won out. I really like the way the brass comes out quite literally like new. My ammo looks like factory and for whatever reason, I find that important.

SS pins won for me. I have a FART and love it.
__________________
Gun control laws benefit only criminals and politicians - but then, I repeat myself.
Life Member, National Rifle Association
Nick_C_S is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 01:32 AM   #12
TruthTellers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 22, 2016
Posts: 2,629
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgulino View Post
TruthTellers - I have used the Harbor Freight dual-drum wet tumbler for a couple of years. Ran 200 rounds (100 each drum) of 45ACP for about an hour this morning. They look new.
I highly recommend the HF tumbler for the price. I can load the drums and tumble while I'm working on something else. An hour is plenty of time.
Yeah, this is another problem with the ultrasonic: when I use it to clean brass, I find the best results are if I stand the cases upright. That's easy to do with .45 brass, but not .327 because they're so skinny, they fall over. Happens to the .45's too with all the vibrations, but not as frequent, however, I have to take time to stand the cases up and after 20 minutes, check the brass to see if it's clean. Some cases don't get fully clean and in the ultrasonic they go for another 10 minutes.

Ultrasonic is not a set and forget solution for optimum brass cleanliness. I'm sure the cases will work fine, but they're not spotless and shiny and I have to believe the shinier the case, the easier they'll be to extract and eject in the gun.

The thing with the Harbor Freight is I'm not sure about the longevity of it like I would be with a Frankford Arsenal or Thumler's, but I bought the Harbor Freight for the lower capacity. Would FA or Thumler's make a smaller rotary tumbler, I'd have bought it.

AND it looks like FA is reading my mind, but this doesn't come out until January:
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/23...e-tumbler-lite

Still, the Harbor Freight dual drum gives me the option of using one drum for a very small cleaning batch, but giving me the option of doing more with the second drum and it also allows me to separate different size cases so smaller cases don't get stuck in larger ones, something that easily happens with .45 Colt.
__________________
Any good revolver > Any good semi auto

^Not so much anymore.
TruthTellers is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 09:42 AM   #13
cw308
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 2, 2010
Location: Plainview , Long Island NY
Posts: 3,367
Never used the ultrasonic but once I went with the wet system with SS Pins , that's what I'm staying with . I let them run for 3 hours , flush out the drum with the cases inside until water is clean , remove the cases and let them air dry in those store bought ammo holders that comes with the loaded bullets.
cw308 is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 01:52 PM   #14
Unclenick
Staff
 
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 16,108
Part of the trick with the ultrasonic is to use a tray or a plastic container for the parts so they can't touch the bottom. That can detune the machine or cause some cases to absorb the lion's share of the energy and leave the rest less clean.

Here's a picture I've put up before of some corroded 30-06 cleaned in the US in a 5% solution of citric acid. This US cleaner has a heater (these were done at 140°F) and a rack for beakers the brass and cleaning solution were in. The USC itself just had water in its tank. The glass beakers have the downside that they can absorb a fair amount of US energy, but I used them for convenience here.

__________________
Gunsite Orange Hat Family Member
CMP Certified GSM Master Instructor
NRA Certified Rifle Instructor
NRA Benefactor Member and Golden Eagle
Unclenick is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 02:02 PM   #15
hounddawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 1, 2009
Posts: 2,451
That's pretty impressive Nick, I bet a plastic tray from a box of store bought ammo would work
__________________
“How do I get to the next level?” Well, you get to the next level by being the first one on the range and the last one to leave.” – Jerry Miculek
hounddawg is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 04:54 PM   #16
ms6852
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 3, 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,021
When I load a small amount like 20 cartridges of either 45/7- or 30-06 you can save a lot of cleaning solution by putting the brass in a small pickle glass jar and fill the jar with the cleaning solution just enough to cover the brass, than fill the reservoir with plain water. Saves money this way on cleaning solution or citric acid.
__________________
ONLY TWO DEFINING FORCES HAVE GIVEN UP THEIR LIVES FOR YOU. ONE IS JESUS CHRIST FOR YOUR SOUL AND THE OTHER IS THE AMERICAN SOLDIER FOR YOUR FREEDOM.
ms6852 is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 05:15 PM   #17
oley55
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2013
Location: JAX, FL
Posts: 317
tumbling rpms

a bit off subject, but does anyone know how many RPMs the thumler and frankfort drums turn at, and what is the diameter of their drums?

just thinking my home built may be turning too fast. it cleans just fine, but dings up the case mouths more than I prefer.
__________________
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” ― Ronald Reagan
oley55 is offline  
Old December 15, 2018, 05:39 PM   #18
lamarw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2010
Location: Lake Martin, AL
Posts: 3,266
I use the ultrasonic, but it is a larger one. It can handle a hundred to two hundred pieces of brass depending on caliber. I deprime prior to using the ultrasonic and the brass including primer pockets come out clean as a whistle.

I normally run mine for about 10 minutes with the cleaning solution hot. All you have to do after is rinse the brass and blow dry. I use a hair dryer.

The check to see if an ultrasonic is up to snuff is the aluminum foil test. Take a piece of aluminum foil and hold it directly down into the solution with the ultrasonic on. Give it about 20 seconds. If the foil comes out riddled with holes, then your ultrasonic is a good one and up to standard.


I uses a stainless steel mesh basket to hold the brass. You should never use your ultrasonic without a basket or something to keep the object(s) from resting on the bottom of the tank.
lamarw is offline  
Old December 17, 2018, 02:11 PM   #19
TruthTellers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 22, 2016
Posts: 2,629
Did my first batch of wet tumbled brass and I'm never bothering with ultrasonic again.
__________________
Any good revolver > Any good semi auto

^Not so much anymore.
TruthTellers is offline  
Old December 17, 2018, 03:30 PM   #20
Nick_C_S
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 21, 2013
Location: Taxifornia
Posts: 4,869
Quote:
a bit off subject, but does anyone know how many RPMs the thumler and frankfort drums turn at, and what is the diameter of their drums?
I busted mine out to answer this.

Running empty, I got 100 revolutions in 44 seconds. If the math in my head is correct, that'll put it at about 133 RPM. Loaded, it may run a little slower, but the motor is pretty torquey, so I don't suspect it slows down much at all.

Looks like it's about 7" in diameter and about 9" wide. My geometry is rusty, but I calculated 346 cubic inches.

You're welcome .
__________________
Gun control laws benefit only criminals and politicians - but then, I repeat myself.
Life Member, National Rifle Association
Nick_C_S is offline  
Old December 17, 2018, 06:30 PM   #21
LE-28
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 24, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 653
I have my home built tumbler running at 100fpm on the outside of the drum. Much faster than that and it becomes inefficient. Things inside tend to go centrifugal and stop tumbling.
LE-28 is offline  
Old December 17, 2018, 07:17 PM   #22
oley55
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 6, 2013
Location: JAX, FL
Posts: 317
Nick_C_S,

Many thanks for checking. Pretty sure it was a pain counting those revs, and WOW that is way faster than mine is turning. I am using an old two speed 1/2 H.P. Kenmore washer motor and via lots of pulley reduction (and a bunch of math) I am turning 36/53 RPMs. When I made it a number of years ago, I was afraid of it turning too fast and ending up with the cases being pressed to the walls of the drum.

My drums are made from heavy duty blue PVC water pipe with 5/8" high glued in PVC vanes for tumbling. OD=9" (ID=8.25") and 20.5" long. Calculating inside dimensions I have 1,069 cubic inches. I have one shorter, 9"X10.5" without vanes (for degreasing loaded rounds in walnut/corn cob media), and another smaller 6"X20" with vanes. The 6" diameter drum turns at 47/72 RPMs.

I use about 12 pounds of pins for the big drum (less depending on numbers of brass). Add in the brass and up to 3.5 gallons of water equals HEAVY, but a piece of cake for the 1/ HP motor. I don't usually run longer than 3 hours. That will get my primer pockets 90% clean. Just don't see the need for spotlessly clean primer pockets.

It seems pretty obvious, I am not turning too fast. Again thanks for checking those RPMs.
__________________
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.” ― Ronald Reagan

Last edited by oley55; December 17, 2018 at 07:27 PM.
oley55 is offline  
Old December 18, 2018, 08:47 AM   #23
cw308
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 2, 2010
Location: Plainview , Long Island NY
Posts: 3,367
Never gave RPM's a thought , just motion with pins , soap and water . I keep mine running for three hours , that's it .
cw308 is offline  
Old December 18, 2018, 09:15 AM   #24
AmmunitionDepot
Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2018
Posts: 44
The ultrasonic does an adequate job cleaning the brass but doesn't put as much of a high polish shine on the brass as the steel pins do. If that doesn't matter to you then the ultrasonic does a good enough job and you won't have to worry about getting all the steel pins out of your brass.
AmmunitionDepot is offline  
Old December 18, 2018, 07:26 PM   #25
jpx2rk
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 29, 2015
Posts: 193
If you use a pickle jar for small batches, should the pickle jar stay off of the metal bottom of the US container, or is it ok for the glass jar to sit directly on the metal container?
jpx2rk is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:23 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11580 seconds with 8 queries