Brass Cleaning

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Ron01013, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Ron01013

    Ron01013 New Member

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    Useing corncob??
    Do you have to change this after so many cases are cleaned, or just add to it as needed??
    Thanks ,
    Ron
  2. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    There is no set amount of brass that can be cleaned before replacing the media. It will start giving you signs. It'll turn blackish and take forever and your brass won't be as shiny. You can prolong the life of the cob by adding small squares of dryer sheet or old t shirts to help collect dust and dirt. Just replace them with each run.
  3. rcairflr

    rcairflr Active Member

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    I've used corncob and walnut media, I much prefer the walnut media over the corncob. With the walnut media, you can add Nu-finish car polish and minerals spirits to help clean the brass, I'm not sure about the corncob.

    I concur with what Howlnmad said.
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    The two common medias for cleaning brass are corn cob and Walnut shells.

    Corn cob is great at shining up the brass but usually will not remove all the stains.

    Walnut shells are great at cleaning the brass and removing most all the stains but the brass is left with a dull finish, without a shine. It lasts forever, it seems whereas corn cob media has a definite life. Sizing usually burnishes the brass such that it ends up with a sufficient shine to it.

    There are a couple of reasons I DO NOT use any polishes or additives to the media:

    What chemicals are in theses polishes? Some chemical weaken the brass and with up to 60,000 psi inside the case during firing I do not need shining weak cases.

    The purpose of brass cleaning is not to make the brass shine but to clean it so that the residues on the case do not arm the sizing die. Walnut media does just that and nothing more.

    When a liquid polish is added it often times clumps up the media and the clump hardens inside the case. It can block primer flash holes (been there, done that) or even partially fill the case body and cause excessive pressures.

    But hey, we all get to choose. I don't like hospital stays and less shine to the brass is fine with me.

    LDBennett
  5. Ron01013

    Ron01013 New Member

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    Thanks Everyone,
    Ron
  6. JohnRich

    JohnRich New Member

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    Heck, I've been using the same batch of corncob media for about 12 years. Still works just fine! Actually I have two batches, one used for cleaning only after the cases come home from the range. And then the second batch used for polishing only after the cases have been lubed and resized. That keeps most the dirt and soot in the first batch, and keeps the polishing batch nice and clean.
  7. Regular Joe

    Regular Joe New Member

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    PLEASE explain Is this "something you read somewhere", or can you cite a source? There are very few chemicals that can attack brass.
    I use "Zilla" brand reptile bedding, available at Petco. It's English walnut shell, ground fine enough that it doesn't stick in flash holes. This stuff costs about $12 for 10 quarts. To each batch, I add about 2 oz. of McGuiars polishing compound (automotive). Yes, it clumps. Run the tumbler for a while, breaking the clumps with your fingers, and scraping it from the bottom. My brass looks jewelry grade. I do change it when the dust gets too dirty on my hands. That's good for about 20 cleaning cycles.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  8. JohnRich

    JohnRich New Member

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    I have read that ammonia weakens brass, and since it's a common cleaning agent, that can sometimes be a problem with reloaders who think that using it is doing something good for their brass.
  9. Little Rooster

    Little Rooster New Member

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    This works for me- I use a small amount of red rouge compound, but the Nu finish does the same thing. The mineral spirits they claim helps keep dust down and evaporates as it runs. It has cut my run time down about half, from the old methods I used. I don't care if it is shiny new just clean and serviceable.
    I have heard that using chemicals such as ammonia would weaken the brass. Honestly how long of a exposed period would this take. I will lose much of this brass, to the "Range Gods "and from wear and other occurances, before I believe a chemical could damage it. We use brass in most places that chemicals are used, to keep from corroding away. On ships and boats where harse salts are exposed to it. Gases and other chemicals in our everyday lives. Look behind your gas cook stove, copper lines with brass connections. Automotive parts like the lines that run brake fluid have brass connections. Ammonia tanks at water and sewage plants use brass hardware. The military insist I used an ammonia laced product to clean my buttons and belt buckel. I don't put alot of salt in the theory that it's not good to use. Most companines like Dillion Lee and RCBS sell some sort of compound to add to the media. Yes they clump and if your not careful will lie in the primer pockets, or embed in the brass. I do feel that the constant tumbling would have a sandpaper like effect and eventullay take away metal and weaking it that way.
    This is just my opinion and I don't run a labatory (can't spell labaratory either) I do shoot as often I can I reload up to a dozen different calibers and brass shotshells. Even thought of buy a electric concrete mixer for a tumbler.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Regular Joe:

    In the Siera Reloading Manual (50th Anniversary, 4th Edition) I have, on page 136, near the bottom of the page, it says:

    " While it would seem to be a logical choice, do NOT use Brasso or any other type of brass cleaning solutions which use ammonia. Strong concentrations of ammonia will chemically attack the case and weaken it, leading to a potentially dangerous situation"

    It can not be said any clearer. The accuracy, reliability, or any other function of an ammo case is not enhanced by the brightness of the shine on it. Cleaning cases is done not for the shine but to assure none of the residues of the previous firing get into the sizing die and scratches its working surfaces. Such scratches get transfered to every case sized after the scratch first appears.

    LDBennett
  11. Country101

    Country101 Active Member

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    Rooster, I see your point here, but the applications you listed are not quite the same. They are not under extreme pressures like the brass would be in a firearm. Also, in most of those applications, some sort of testing would have been done to make sure that the intended chemicals are compatible with the copper.

    I think it is safe to assume though that any polish sold by a company specifically for brass has been tested as well and no ill effects were found. This does not apply for other polishes. Polishes not labeled for cleaning brass(read=firearms brass) could have a chemical that may make stuff look purdy, but may actually have harmful effects.

    Just because something will make the brass shine and look good doesnt mean that it is the best for it. More than likely you will be fine using most cleaning agents, but why take the chance if it's not made for the purpose you are using it?
  12. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    As to extreme pressure how about 60,000 pounds per square inch! Brass buttons or belt buckles rarely see that much pressure or do gravity fed liquid systems or even pump systems.

    Ammunition works at EXTREME pressures. Anything done to the brass case that confines those pressures must not harm the structure of the brass case or bad things happen.

    It is OK to use polishes and products developed for brass cases like the Dillon polish, among others. But I insist it is not necessary. Good looking highly polished brass cases do nothing for the function of the brass cases. Although I have not ever heard or read this, maybe it even hurts the performance of the brass case. Remember, the case is a gasket for the chamber. it is expected to seal off the gases from getting around the bolt and into the shooters face. The case must grab the chamber wall to seal well. A slick polished case in a polished chamber is not conducive to "grabbing" the chamber wall. What might happen is the case will slide on the chamber wall and place excessive pressure on the bolt face. Isn't that one of the reasons we don't allow oil in the chamber? Just food for thought.

    LDBennett
  13. Bud0505

    Bud0505 Member

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    I use walnut blast media that I bought at Harbor Freight and a cap or two of Nu Car Fin. The media comes in a 25 pound box and cost roughly a dollar a pound so you might want to share with your reloading friends.

    R/Bud
  14. Infidel762

    Infidel762 New Member

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  15. Little Rooster

    Little Rooster New Member

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    Mr Bennett First of all I respect what you and the others are saying, as I do many of the subjects you comment on. Forums like this are for sharing information- data- and experiances. Like you said food for thought. On this paticular subject, I am no expert and take heed, I have never told anyone differently. My point is brass is used in corrosive and with other harse chemicals and conditions. Including constant pressure lines. It is used because of it resilence to the chemicals and conditions. You yourself have showed a bigger issue in your post. A sudden burst of 60,000psi is enougn to cause armour to weaken. My loading manuel yet old and not from the same manufactor as yours also warns of chemical use. It also reccommends it's own approved product to be used. Great product placement. Sometimes we need to think beyond the books. These are just my opinions and am not losing sleep over it.
  16. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Brass works for cartridge cases because after years of experience they figured out how to make it work. The brass is hardened in the head area of the case, softened in the neck and shoulder area. This is possible because the crystalline structure is different in those two area because of the application of different heat and cooling processes. The ammonia, according to what I have read, can change the crystalline structure. The crystalline structure is what gives the brass it strength, not just the fact that is is brass.

    The cartridge case is not made of brass because brass resists most chemical actions but because of its ability to repeatedly deform and return to its original shape. But get it too weak and it will fail. Impact the hardness of any part of it and it MAY fail. Ammonia is know to weaken brass. Don't use cleaners or polishes or any chemicals not specifically for brass cartridge cases. Again 60,000 psi is nothing to fool around with, especially when appearance is the driving force. Dull clean brass shoots as well as shiny brass.

    LDBennett
  17. Bud0505

    Bud0505 Member

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    Infidel,

    It should work fine as long as shipping costs are reasonable. For me 50# of media would last longer than I will.
  18. ozo

    ozo Active Member

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    I use cheap white rice.......
    when it shows some sign of darkening,
    I replace it.
    Works great.....
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