brass cleaning questions

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by hunter29180, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Active Member

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    1) tumble or vibrate..does it matter?


    2) what media do you use to tumble brass? if walnut ..corarse or fine?


    3) what media used for vibrating?


    4) what is the polishing paste? or additive used and why?


    figure i wont be doing much more than 100-200 cases at any one time for my needs, but do wish to do this right.
  2. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    #1 - I believe all case tumblers are vibratory. they vibrate on a center axis and cause the media to tumble inside out, "rolling" the brass around and around the tumbler bowl...

    #2 - Wlanut cleans faster, but corncob polishes better, You can mix the 2 for the 'best of both worlds'.. I prefer to use FINE corcob from Harbor Freight treated with cabelas brass polish and I let my cases run overnight most times...

    #3 - refer to #1 (if there is a such thing as a rotary case tumbler for cleaning brass, I suppose you could use any type of media you wanted to use) and again I prefer fine corncob...

    #4 - Case polish is added to media so the cases wont only come out clean, they will also come out polished. I tumbled some 30 year old 9mm ammo I bought cheap at a gunstore because it was all tarnished and brown. 3 hours in the tumbler with some treated corncob and they looked like brand new...
  3. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

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    There are tumbler case polishers, which were originally used for rock polishing. My friend has a red one. The outside is steel and inside of it is covered in rubber so it is fairly quiet. It is basically a washing machine w/o an agitator.
  4. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    oh, ok, I know what youre talking about. An old shootn friend of mine used one for his .40-70 sharps brass, he said it was his dads old rock polisher. I never could understand why he didnt just go buy a 50 dollar tumbler from cabelas.
  5. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Kevin is spot on. I bought this one at a gun show, oh gees, maybe 35 years ago. That $64 price was what I paid back then. It is the only tumbler I have ever used and it is quiet. I use walnut when I want a fast clean with no concern about shine. I use the corn when I want that pretty shinny brass which doesn't shoot one bit better but it is oh so pretty. :D
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  6. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    nice todd. I think ronnys was a thumbler too...
  7. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Josh, back then when I got that tumbler I didn't know any thing about a vibrator. Cross that out. About case cleaners and this was what was available at the time. :D
  8. carver

    carver Moderator

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    I have one of those old rock tumblers too, but use a modern vibrater. Don't care much about the shine, just want em clean. I use crushed walnut with a liquid brass polish for use in vibraters.
  9. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Active Member

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    ok, didnt know about the "rock" tumblers, had read on here and elsewhere about using old cement mixers after removing the "paddles"? for larger batches, and had seen one good for about a 5 gal buckfull of cement made with a plastic tub..

    so in the "rock" tumblers about how many shells work well in them? say about 30-30, 30-06 or 45lc sizes? I see Harbor freight has a dual rock tumbler avail..2 3lb drums on it.

    also some mention brass polish, metal polish, is this a liquid or a paste? (like Brasso?)
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2011
  10. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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    Go with a Lyman 600 or 1200 vibrator, I think they do a better job in a shorter amount of time. More noise though, but I have mine on a timer and I set it when I leave for work. ( probably annoys the snot out of the dog while I'm gone, but oh well, :D )

    As for polish, stick with something made for cartridge brass. There are people out there that will say what they want about using brasso and some of the other brands that have ammonia in them; but I'm not going to argue with basic chemistry 101 - Ammonia WILL make your brass brittle and you will have problems with split cases much sooner.
    They make plenty of stuff on the market that does a great job; I've used at various times, Roosters, Lyman, Dillon and Flitz. They're all pretty comparable, buy what is available and the most economic.
  11. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Active Member

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    thanks Woolleyworm,

    noise is a big factor to me..so decided to stick with the tumbler..(wife decided this one for me..) so so far heres where i am..lee classic set in 45lc, trailboss powder, rock tumbler with walnut media. more questions to follw...

    thanks to all those who replied, your input was very helpful!
  12. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    One of the best, and cheapest, polishes is NuFinish car polish in the orange container. Give a couple of glugs into the cob, run it 15 minutes to distribute it evenly, and add the brass. When it seems to be dried after a week or so, add a couple of capfuls of mineral spirits to soften it up and also help remove any carbon from your brass.

    The Thumler's tumblers are great for smaller loads of brass. I started with one of those and I think it will handle maybe 100 rounds of 30-06 and probably 300 rounds of pistol brass. Pretty quiet too, and parts and replacement tubs are available.
  13. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Active Member

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    a glug..new measurement there! is that more or less that a tablespoon? JUST kidding Medalguy! so NuFinish car polish..wouldnt take much in a tumbler drum less than a glug i would think..does it ever go bad? i have a orange bottle in the closet thats about 4 yrs old....
  14. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    careful with all these polishes that are not labeled for brass. Some of them contain amonia, which destroys brass... Check the active ingredients
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