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Old May 12, 2013, 10:57 AM   #1
Join Date: February 4, 2013
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Separating out those steel pins

Those of you who wet tumble, what method do you use to separate the steel pins, the brass, and the mucky fluid? I just started using pins a week ago, and I don't really have a method that I like yet. Before, with just the polish, I'd just dump out the tumbler canisters into a colander in a utility sink, rinse thoroughly, then dry in a dehydrator.

With these pins, I cannot do that, since they'll slip right through the colander. And trying to carefully pour the liquid out without losing any pins down the drain isn't really bullet proof. I'm currently dumping everything into a terry cloth that's draped over a bucket. Then I put the brass into a media separator to get most of the pins out. Then dump them into a colander, and then stir them with a magnet before rinsing.

The pins do make the insides of the cases nicer, but they may be more trouble than they're worth.
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Old May 12, 2013, 12:51 PM   #2
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I use a cat litter tray (minus cat litter) and dump the tumbler into a square wire mesh basket. Then slowly decant the dirty water off using a magent to catch any stray pins. Rinse well filling the tray, the water allows the pins to drop from the case's. Pour the case's out on a old terry towel and the pins go back into the tumbler drum.

I really like the cleaner cases, primer pockets clean and the inside scrubbed clean.
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Old May 12, 2013, 03:38 PM   #3
Join Date: April 10, 2013
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My method is:
Fill a media seperator with water up to 3/4th full, spin the pins out.
Dump the dirty water and pins throught a mesh "paint strainer" in a five gallon bucket.
Dump dirty water into the toilet and flush

For how you've been doing it I would just buy a 5 gallon bucket and a pack of mesh paint strainers. You get both in the paint aisle of lowes or home depot.
Put the mesh strainer on the rim and into the bucket.
Fill the 5 gallon bucket almost full with water (this is important since you need to rinse anyway and the pins will be more likely to stick to as well as inside cases unless you soak in water to break the suface tension.
Dump your pins + brass into your collander.
Pan it below the water surface like you are sifting for gold.
When all the pins fall through, lift out the mesh and dump the water.

I Let the pins hang out in the mesh until they are dry.

Hope this helps keep you from regretting your investment into stainless pins.

Last edited by DennRN; May 12, 2013 at 03:43 PM.
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Old May 12, 2013, 03:55 PM   #4
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I dump my rubber barrels into a round steel bowl.
Flush with clean water (in the sink) until the water is clear, mixing the brass, pins and water about as I flush it.

I pick each case out and shake it under water case mouth down and the pins stay in the water.

With all cases removed, I strain the water and pins threw a towel. Water, gunk and soap gone. Clean pins in the towel and clean brass ready to dry.

I check the flash hole as I pull each case out. A few will have two pins wedged in. They shake or or get pulled with pliers.

I seldom do pistol brass, so it isn't too bad with just rifle cases.


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Old May 12, 2013, 04:56 PM   #5
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I use a Frankford Arsenal media separator (plastic mesh ball) half submerged on top of a full bucket of water. A few rotations back and forth remove all of the pins.
"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." A. Brilliant
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Old May 12, 2013, 06:25 PM   #6
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I dump out most of the dirty water, then dump the contents into the media separator, which is filled about halfway with fresh water. I tumble it around for a little while, with the brass being in the water during this process, so that all the pins separate from the brass.

After that, I crack open the media separator, I'll "sift for gold" as mentioned in the other post, then I'll rinse off the brass with fresh water before drying them.

All of the steel media, with the exception of the ones which may be stuck in some of the brass, is at the bottom of the gray container.

Ammo by Dillon and Hornady
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Old May 12, 2013, 06:27 PM   #7
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Separating out those steel pins

I don't dump the pins and brass from my tumbling drum. I open it up and carefully drain the water through a very fine strainer. This will prevent brass and pins from going down the drain. Then I repeatedly rinse and empty the water until all the soap suds are gone. I drain once more and pick the brass out one by one, shaking the pins back into the drum. If any pins get loose I pick them up with a magnet and return them to the drum.

I lay the brass out on a towel, roll them around to remove surface water, then put them in a colander which I blow with a hair dryer. I leave the colander under a fan overnight to dry completely. Air can flow through the cases because I deprime them with a Lee universal decapping die before tumbling.

I tumble with one pound each of brass, pins, and water in cheap dual Harbor Freight tumblers using a drop of Dawn and a bit of Lemishine. I tumble for two hours, rinse and tumble another two hours.

When done the pins stay in the drum along with a little residual water. I found out the hard way to tumble only one size of brass at a time (otherwise smaller brass and pins will lodge inside them). Works for me!

Last edited by PodPeople; May 12, 2013 at 10:12 PM.
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Old May 13, 2013, 07:07 AM   #8
Join Date: February 4, 2013
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Thanks for the suggestions. I have some things to try here, and do believe I'll be continuing to use the pins.
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Old May 13, 2013, 04:38 PM   #9
serf 'rett
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The Quick and Economical Method

After reading some of the many methods for separating the brass and pins, I can easily see why folks can be scared away from the stainless pin method of cleaning brass. I’ve used a single drum Thumler Tumber Model A-R1, rated for three pounds (of rocks) for several years. If I remember correctly, the Model A-R1 motor is the same as the one used on the dual drum A-R2 machine. I’ve easily cleaned over 25K pieces of brass with nary a problem.

My capacity may be a little less than what you run, but the principle is the same. My standard mix is roughly a pound of brass, a pound of stainless pins, enough water to cover the brass 1/4" to 1/2", a small amount of Great Value dish soap and 3 to 4 pinches of Lemishine. Seal and tumble for one hour for simple cleaning or 1-1/2 to 2 hours for super clean and shine. Some of my standard barrel loads: 150 pieces 9mm, 100 pieces 40S&W, 80 pieces .45ACP.
ecause I’m dealing with a small capacity, I can easily use the kitchen or bathroom sink to rinse and separate the brass and pins. When I first open a newly tumbled batch, I decant off the muck, refill the barrel, decant off again and generally repeat this twice more (this step saves water in the following steps).

There are two important elements which make a quick job of separating the brass and pins. When I first started using the stainless pins, I picked up a couple of plastic nested colander/bowl combinations from Wally World for around $1 each. Because the colander nests inside the bowl, there is a small amount of clearance between the bottom of the colander and the bowl. This gives the pins somewhere to go when I dump the brass and pins into the two bowls. The second key element is simply instead of holes, the colander has slots which are perfect for allowing the pins to drop through into the bottom bowl.

As I fill the colander and bowl for the fourth rinse, I stir the pins and brass with my hand. The water is then dumped and I rinse a fifth time while stirring. By the end of that rinse, the pins have dropped through the colander into the bowl. The pins are then dumped back into the tumbler barrel for another run. Takes about 3 minutes to rinse and separate a batch of pistol brass, rifle brass a tad longer because I will invert and shake them under water. Total water used is less than 3 gallons.

After dumping the brass on a towel I gather the towel together for a good shake, followed by rolling the brass on the towel. Takes slightly more time, but I rack up the brass in plastic cartridge holders. Brass is placed mouth down in skeletonized plastic trays I’ve collected over the years. Trays are placed on a bed/towel/table/whatever and generally the brass is dry by the next day. With the case heads facing up, it is quick work to sort by headstamp.
A lack of planning on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on my part.
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Old May 13, 2013, 04:44 PM   #10
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I don't dump the pins and brass from the tumbler tub.I rinse the dirty water from the tub under the tap and leave the tub 3/full of water.I take the brass out one by one and swish them around a bit upside down.The water releases the pins and they fall to the bottom of the tub.I leave the wet pins in the tub for next use.I find anything that actually removes the pins from the tub to be a pain in the rear.
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Old May 13, 2013, 06:30 PM   #11
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"The pins do make the insides of the cases nicer, but they may be more trouble than they're worth. "

You're getting smarter already.

The inside of your cases will have reverted to the original condition by the time the bullet is 3 inches down the bore anyway.
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