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Old September 19, 2012, 06:08 PM   #1
Join Date: August 30, 2012
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Cleaning Brass without tumbling

I'm new to reloading and would like to know if there are any shortcuts to cleaning bass with household / auto cleaners. I'm only looking at cleaning 50 - 100 rounds at once but don't want the added expense of a tumbler. Anything to soak brass in overnite or for few days?
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Old September 19, 2012, 06:27 PM   #2
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you can clean them in the sink or a bucket and dry them in the sun or the oven (on low), or some people put them in the washer tied up in panty hose or lingerie bags. By the way- just in case you thought they cost a lot more, a perfectly good franklin arsenal tumbler costs $40 delivered. Combine that with $10-15 of petstore supplies (corncob media and walnut media and a $7 bottle of nufinish and you are good for years.

I discovered this one and bought it after washing a few batches in a bucket. It makes me shake my head every time I use it (weekly) that I didnt think I would want one.
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Old September 19, 2012, 06:40 PM   #3
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kwm, 9/20/12

I cleaned and reloaded my first 80,000 pistol and rifle rounds without a tumbler and there were no problems. Tumbling is a great way to get your cases to look pretty but gives no advantage when shooting.

I would combine case inspection and cleaning in one step. Just take each case and, with a paper towel, wipe off the base, extrator groove and body and then look inside the mouth. It takes about 7 seconds per case. I never had a problem missing cracked cases or scratching dies on my press.

However I presently am using stainless steel pins and a rotary tumbler for my cases. The problem with the "paper towel" method is that it didn't clean the primer pockets and after repeated reloads I would get enough carbon buildup that I was getting some high primers. The stainless steel-pin method cleans the cases inside and out including the primer pockets but involves a lot more work and time. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old September 19, 2012, 06:50 PM   #4
William T. Watts
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Most will eventually opt for a tumbler if for no other reason it's easier to inspect their cases for defects. As has been pointed out a tumbler + media + polish isn't that expensive and the benefits of tumbling make it costs effective. William
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:45 PM   #5
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I saw something about tumbling with cat litter..... any one on this??
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:51 PM   #6
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Yep... Go to Petco and get a bag of cat litter or corn cob media (used in bottom of bird cages). Lots cheaper than buying it from a reloading supply place
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Old September 19, 2012, 08:17 PM   #7
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walmart has the corn cob media I heard, very cheap. its called "rabbit bedding" or something. mine didnt have any so I went to a mom and pop pet store across the street. The thing I wasnt aware of is corncob and walnut last for 10s of thousands of rounds. I am at least 15K rounds in with mine and only add a little bit of each once a month or so to account for spillage. I do use strips of old dryer sheet though to each batch (4-6 1"x2" pieces) and they come out dirty after a 45-60 minute session so I think that helps.

One tip for the FA tumbler if anyone buys it-if you cut a piece of rubber tubing (surgical tubing or brake line or something) to fit over the threaded rod and trim it so it is slightly compressed when the lid is screwed on it helps with the noise a bit. The noise isnt bad either way, sort of like a small air compressor sounds but less shrill. I just set mine outside the door and let it go.

A kitty litter scoop for a buck or two makes short work of separating the cases from the media without having to dump it if you prefer to go that route. Works for me.

Oh and be careful what you tumble together and make sure you only tumble cases that wont fit inside each other. .380/9mm/.38/.357 are fine together, but throw some .40 or .45 in there and you will have lots of stuck cases.
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Old September 20, 2012, 07:55 AM   #8
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Look up Iosso liquid brass cleaner, it makes all brass shine even tarnished stuff. Most brass only needs to be dipped in for about one minute. Heavy tarnished will need a few minutes, you can shake them off and toss them into a tumbler for an extra shine if you want. Otherwise put them in the oven on a cookie sheet to dry them, set oven on warm.
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Old September 20, 2012, 08:07 AM   #9
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I don´t have a tumbler. I always have at least 1k cases in 9mm, 38 and 32 ready to be loaded.
Six months ago I found a "magic" recipe. Citric acid. It´s less than 5$ a pound and only need a tea spoon of it per galon. No need more than 30 minutes shake now and then. Then rinse and shake for other 30 minutes. As soon as you drop the brass on the solution you´ll see the rests of carbon at the bottom of the jug. You´ll find your brass is clean and shines as if tumbled.
Then sun will do the rest of the job.
It´s a poor man´s way, but it works and that´s what I do.

PS. Cleaning brass is an overrated step in handloading.
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Old September 20, 2012, 08:26 AM   #10
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I use a ultrasonic with detergent...laundry or dish. The ultrasonic isn't necessary, it just makes the cleaner more thorough. If I want them to shine like new I'll toss 'em in the tumbler after that and 10-15 minutes later they look new, but laundry detergent shines them up pretty pretty well. It also makes cleaning primer pockets much easier, sometimes unnecessary, as long as you remove the spent primers prior to cleaning. The flip side of that is the sizing die is going to get dirtier faster than it would if I sized the brass after it's been cleaned.
Cleaning brass is an overrated step in handloading.
I agree. Cleaning the primer pocket is important, clean shinny brass is more cosmetic than anything else unless the brass is so dirty that you end up with feeding problems.
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Old September 20, 2012, 08:26 AM   #11
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For cleaning brass manually in the sink liquid laundry soap appears to be much better/stronger than liquid dish soap. Residue from fired primers may contain some nasty stuff in the cleaning water so household kitchen gloves might be a smart idea.
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Old September 20, 2012, 09:17 AM   #12
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PS. Cleaning brass is an overrated step in handloading.
It is an important step in the "finding spent cases on the ground process" though.

Cleaning the primer pocket is important
For rifle, yes. Handgun, no. I haven't even seen the inside of a primer pocket in the last 10k handgun loads I have made up. Unless a spent primer falls out or someone gives me some new brass I may never see one again
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Old September 20, 2012, 09:42 AM   #13
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I've been using dish soap and very hot water - does fine for dirt and debris, but you don't get the nice shiny finish that you get with tumbling
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Old September 20, 2012, 02:36 PM   #14
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Just be sure your brass polish or detergent has no ammonia in it. Ammonia will ruin your brass.

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cleaning brass cases , reload

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