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SamS
03-03-2010, 05:14 PM
Hey I'm just starting out and bought almost 800 once fired .45acp brass for $5.00 a 100 from the local gun range. It's an outdoor range and the stuff is a little dirty to mud covered. Don't want to spend $$$ on a tumbler if I don't have to right away. I was wondering if any of you reloading vets have come up with a way to clean brass without using a tumbler?

Thanks


Sam

hunter63
03-03-2010, 09:18 PM
I think I would just dump them in a pan of dish soap and water, let them soak a bit, then scrub and wipe off.
Let dry really good, the check out the condition?

I don't use a polisher unless the brass is very tarnished and I want to check for cracks and pin holes.

kawalekm
03-04-2010, 12:54 PM
Here's a recipe that I like. For each gallon of hot water add about 1/2 cup of vinegar, a tablespoon of table salt, and enough dish washing detergent to make suds. The salt makes the brass come out shinier than if omitted. Dump in your brass and let soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Stir the brass occasionally. You can gauge the results incrementally and let the brass soak for longer/shorter periods of time based on what level of cleanliness you need.

After the wash/soak is finished, dump out the dirty water and rinse repeatedly 5-6 times till the brass is completely clean. Make sure that you stir your brass to drain all trapped water, and make sure all the brass fills up inside with rinse water (no air pockets). After your final drain, leave the brass laying in the sun and it will be dry and ready for sizing in about an hour. You can clean chrome plated brass this way too, but cut down the soak times because the vinegar will start to strip off the chrom.

Good luck,
Michael

SamS
03-05-2010, 12:03 AM
Cool. That's what I was looking for. Cheap and easy.

Thanks

Sam

Bare
03-06-2010, 10:54 AM
Brasso works as well as anything. I've seen some nasty crud come off in seconds.

SamS
03-06-2010, 09:36 PM
Are you talking about polishing one case at a time?

Rick
03-07-2010, 08:41 PM
I read a post somewhere about putting a bunch of dirty brass in a pillowcase with some medium and tumbling it in the clothes dryer.

I'd wait till the wife is visiting her sister or something before I try this trick. I'm just saying...

BAM
04-21-2010, 12:17 PM
I read a post somewhere about putting a bunch of dirty brass in a pillowcase with some medium and tumbling it in the clothes dryer.

I'd wait till the wife is visiting her sister or something before I try this trick. I'm just saying...

this is what laundromats are for.... :)

NotSoFast
04-21-2010, 12:52 PM
IF the brass isn't too dirty, I bypass the cleaning. Some handgun brass has been loaded with clean burning powder and I can see the primer hole when I look inside. If I don't see any problems with the brass, I just go right to reloading. That saves me several hours, a lot of noise, and one step.

I wouldn't do that with rifle brass though. Too much chance of missing a split case. In that case, go the vinegar and salt route. I've tried it with good results. However, when I added salt, I found a white residue after the brass dried. So now, when I use it, I eliminate the salt. I don't need shiny, just clean.

NotSoFast
04-21-2010, 12:53 PM
I'm thinking the dust would still find it's way out of the pillowcase. I don't want lead and gunpowder in my clothes from any residue, thank you.

BAM
04-21-2010, 01:01 PM
be careful using vinegar to clean brass.

Both metals used in brass cases (copper and zinc) are soluble in acetic acid (vinegar). The salts, copper acetate and zinc acetate, are also soluble. Zinc is more soluble than copper so it dissolves faster. In addition a galvanic action occurs that cause copper to be dissolved and then redeposited on the surface at the expense of the zinc.

When you clean brass cases in a vinegar solution you change both the chemical and physical properties of the surface of the case. There have been comments about cases being too clean, primers hard to seat, deposits on mandrels, etc. When you change the surface by dissolving some of it and etching it these things will happen. Whether they happen to the point of being a problem becomes the issue.

NHForester
04-21-2010, 01:16 PM
You can get away without a tumbler for a while. I did just that by wiping them off with a rag with a little CLP on it. This does get old after a while though. Eventually you will want a tumbler.

If you are going to soak them, try drying them in the oven on low temp. Just to make sure they are dry.

Some recommend not using brasso because it weakens the brass. Some say this is BS. I have never used it though.

SamS
04-22-2010, 11:41 PM
Thanks guys. Been way to busy to even think about any reloading yet. Went from being bored to no time to breath. Hope I get caught up soon cuz I'm really starting to wear down. Will probably go in halves on a tumbler with one of my bro in laws that does reload and needs one too.

Really appreciate all of the advice.


Sam

VillageIdjit
11-28-2010, 11:18 AM
Thanks guys. Been way to busy to even think about any reloading yet. Went from being bored to no time to breath. Hope I get caught up soon cuz I'm really starting to wear down. Will probably go in halves on a tumbler with one of my bro in laws that does reload and needs one too.

Really appreciate all of the advice.


Sam

Now that is a winning idea!

If ya wanna clean the brass without tumbling, soak it in a solution of citric acid - 2 or 3 teaspoons to a quart of hot water - in a NON-METALLIC container. 5 to 30 minutes. Overnight will not hurt, it won't do much better than an hour or two but my point is that the procedure does NOT require supervision. Afterwards, rinse thoroughly with hot water and dry in the sun, with a hair dryer, or low temp oven or whatever works for you.

The citric acid has an additional benefit in that it passivates the brass. That is, tends to prevent corrosion.

If you cannot find citric acid locally or conveniently, try UNSWEETENED Kool-Aid. I would prolly use "lemon-lime" flavor to help prevent any other discoloration of the brass.

NON-METALLIC container and utensils are absolutely essential! There is a likely possibility of electrolysis when using steel or aluminum (or other metal) containers or utensils!

rAcErRicK
11-28-2010, 12:33 PM
You can get away without a tumbler for a while. I did just that by wiping them off with a rag with a little CLP on it. This does get old after a while though. Eventually you will want a tumbler.

If you are going to soak them, try drying them in the oven on low temp. Just to make sure they are dry.

Some recommend not using brasso because it weakens the brass. Some say this is BS. I have never used it though.

Second that. There are just too many risks in using chemicals on brass cases. A tumbler IS a necessary reloading tool.

You will be amazed at how many other things you can clean in a tumbler too ! :meeting:

Skeezix
08-19-2012, 01:11 PM
When I have used the 'wet' method, I deprime the brass first. It dries faster and you can get the primer pockets clean, also. I have used Oxy-clean , about cup in a plastic gallon jar. It works fairly well.

Tim Horton
08-22-2012, 01:26 PM
Here is a thought...........

I know people have used white rice as an abrasive in rock tumblers. I believe it works well.
I suspect they were using a small amount of Brasso with the rice. Walnut shell should also be available at sporting stores with reloading supplies.

With that in mind, get an old gas dryer that runs on 120 V and put it in the garage, double bag your brass in pillow cases.

I read once someone even used sand in a small home project cement mixer.......... Wonder how that worked out ?

Good luck

grumble
08-22-2012, 01:34 PM
Sand scratches the heck outta brass. Comes out very dull with visible scratches. Which also increases the friction when trying to remove the reloaded brass from the chamber after firing. Don't use sand.

Both walnut shells and ground corn cobs are used to line lizard and other reptile cages. A pet store or sometimes a feed store will sell it in big bags much cheaper than you can get it at a reloading store. Just makes sure to get the stuff that's finely ground, the bigger grains will plug up primer pockets and small case mouths.

newhampshire
08-23-2012, 12:56 PM
I have recently done some cleaning of brass items found at yard sales. I think it might apply here too. I used ketchup! Amazingly quick,and it was wipe-on, wipe off. I think if you doused your casings in ketchup, stir it well, let it sit 10-15 minutes. Follow with a soapy,hot water bath. I imagine it will surprize you. And the "tumblers"?? I always see the rock polishers that kids use at yard sales. $1-$5 in price. Would those work any different than what you are speaking of.
?

grumble
08-23-2012, 01:40 PM
Ammo brass tumblers are usually quite a bit bigger than the little rock tumblers you mentioned, but the idea is the same, something to rub a mild abrasive against the brass until it wipes off the tarnish and goop. Some use the rotary tumblers, but most often they use a tub that vibrates and a person just waits several hours for the cleaning medium to do its job.

The ketchup is a good idea! Oldtimers would use salt and vinegar, and except for the tomato and sugar, that's what ketchup is!

ArmySGT.
11-12-2012, 10:24 PM
http://www.harborfreight.com/power-tools/mixers/1-1-4-quarter-cubic-ft-compact-cement-mixer-91907.html

http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/browse.cmd?N=1100197&WTz_l=SBC%3BBRprd705690

http://www.brownells.com/search/index.htm?k=tumblers&ksubmit=y

MichaelK
11-21-2012, 01:05 PM
If you really, really want to tumble but don't have a tumbler, you can do what I did a few times. Place you brass/media in a large plastic SCREW-CAP container. Tape this shut with a wrap of duct tape for extra security. Place the sealed container in a cardboard box that you place in the clothes dryer. Stuff the remaining empty space with some pillows or such to keep the box from bouncing around.

Set the dryer on cool and run for about an hour. This MUST be done when the wife is NOT home. I've gotten away with it several times and it works.

gunslinger598
01-09-2013, 12:32 PM
I recently watched some you tube videos on cleaning brass with a few home made concoctions. The results weren't to bad if that's all a person had. One might want to look some of those up for ideas.



yard sales can sometimes yield reloading or cleaning equipment very cheap. I usually just ask a price if it isnt marked. Many times people dont even know what it is they are selling and just want it gone. If it's a good price I don't haggle and I don't try to act like I know more than them and spoil a deal.

SamS
01-12-2013, 07:42 PM
Well I broke down and bought a Thumler's model B and some SS media so I'm set on that. Had to make a move in a direction hat gives me more control of my ammo flow than the stores in this climate. Currently reloading for .45acp and .223 and will hopefully be doing 30.06 soon as I hope to have a Garand soon.

Thanks for all the info guy's.

SamS

JeepHammer
10-25-2015, 11:50 AM
Do you know what 'Silica' sand is? White 'Sandblasting' sand?

I wouldn't use Silica sand in a machine, since it actually cuts into the brass,
But for a 'Hand Powered' cleaner, you will tire out before the sand does damage...

Remove the primers, drop brass into a container that WILL NOT break, plastic or metal,
That has a screw on lid.
1/4 full brass, 1/4 full sand, 1/2 empty.

You can roll the container around the yard, Shake it, whatever, just keep it moving.

Sharp silica sand will clean in a reasonable amount of time,
But rounded construction or beach sand will take FOREVER, and your brass won't come out 'Shiny'...

Don't forget to wash the brass in HOT water/soap when it's cleaned,
You don't want that silica in the primer pocket or neck when you load.

------------------

I have several types/sizes of cleaners, and by far the stainless steel pins are the easiest and give the best results.
You will be happy with that tumbler for YEARS to come, probably decades.

I'm using a pressure canner, liquid seal in the lid, VERY large volume, I can clean 2,000 to 2,500 brass at a time and still have plenty of room...
Weight becomes an issue before volume of brass does.
The SS pins do a GREAT job, and they do it FAST.

If you don't mind, I would suggest one thing to any newbie...
Buy a CASE GAUGE!
Short/Fat round, especially .45 ACP, like a STRIGHT, SMOOTH case for feeding.

A case gauge will tell you when you have the case the correct size (SAAMI Specification),
So you KNOW your brass/loaded rounds are correct to the last detail...
Gauge the brass before it's loaded to make sure the dies are set EXACTLY correctly,
Use the gauge again on loaded rounds to ensure there weren't any anomalies when they loaded.
If they fit the case gauge, they should feed/chamber/cycle.
If they don't, you KNOW it's the firearm and NOT your reloads...

Some guys say if it's fired, and it's going back into the same firearm, you don't need to use a gauge...
OK, That's a LOT of "IF's",
And once you use the gauge to get your dies set up and tuned, use the gauge to monitor progress, making sure something didn't move or change, there are no "IF's" in the process.
Case gauges run $15 to $25 and will keep you cranking out highest quality rounds for years to come!

Tim Horton
10-28-2015, 02:28 PM
The "Tumbler Model B" units are good equipment...
I used one loading with a buddy many years ago when they were about $29...

Read somewhere recently about using a stainless steel rod tumbling media that seems to work well.. Rods about .06" diameter x 3/8" long ?? They are said to pass through primer flash holes and don't cause any problems bridging in cases etc... Used with a little soapy water..

After a good rinse someone was wondering how to best dry the cases.. Easy.. Spread out on an old cookie sheet, bake in the oven at about 200* for an hour or so.. Let cool..

The cement mixer is not a bad idea if you have quantity enough.. Only problem may be paint coming off the mixer inside on the first few uses..
---
In small tumblers, I have seen white rice with a little coating of Brasso used to polish and brighten not very grubby brass.. With that you do have to check for rice stuck in primer holes and pockets.. Some will say Brasso attacks and weakens brass.. Maybe if you saturate the brass or don't clean it off well... Again a little hot soapy water, rinse, bake dry works well.

Good luck

Kachad
10-28-2015, 08:45 PM
Don't know if this was posted in the thread - but I use used dryer sheets in my tumbler. They take up a lot of crud and extend the life of the polishing media.

wywhitewolf
11-04-2015, 11:14 AM
BIL lives at the end of a long gravel road. He throws his brass an media in a sealed tote and lets it ride in the back of his pickup for a week. Claims it works as good as any tumbler.

WWW

Kachad
11-05-2015, 09:28 PM
BIL lives at the end of a long gravel road. He throws his brass an media in a sealed tote and lets it ride in the back of his pickup for a week. Claims it works as good as any tumbler.

WWW

Heh - I don't doubt this one bit. :D