Case tumbling

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by dwmiller, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone ever tried any of the porcelain ceramic media in their vibratory case tumblers? May be a dumb question, but I've used it in rotary tumblers to polish jewelry and stones before. So I know it will work on soft metals. Just wondering it anyone had ever used it on brass cases before? Question is how it will work in a standard bowl vibrating tumbler.

    I've got to change the media in my tumbler soon and I'm looking for something with a better life expectancy than cob or walnut shell. Buying it every six months is a pain.

    Maybe I'll get some and do a little experiment. Would be nice to have media that doesn't stick in the primer flash holes too. Thinking about a mix of 2mm, 3mm, 4mm rounds with 4mm triangles thrown in. About a pound of each will fill my tumbler bowl to 70%. All are small enough to get inside the throat of a 223 case.

    This stuff has a smooth surface, you add polish in powder/liquid form to it. Just add more polish to rejuvenate. Doesn't break down either and can be washed clean. Figure if it works it would be a good alternative to steel needles in a rolling barrel tumbler. Cheaper than what I'm buying now, in the long run...
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
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  2. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    Well started looking for an extra tumbler bowl to experiment with and found this tumbler in Midway, on sale for 27.99, ships free with the Black Friday code and Hornady will send me a hundred of their 30 caliber, 150 grain, SP bullets too for an additional $6.95 shipping. No brainer, pushed the buy button. The new tumbler was basicly free. Those bullets cost that much unless they are on sale. A bare bowl alone to fit my tumbler was $26. So this was a better deal..

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/982387/hornady-m-1-case-tumbler

    Ordered 3 - 2 lb. Packages of 2mm, 3mm and 4mm round spheres and a 3lb package of 1/4"x1/4" angle cut triangles. Both in smooth unglazed porcelain. Got those off Ebay for $41 shipped. Not too bad considering Cabelas wants $30 for a 6lb jug of treated walnut media now. This stuff should last forever too.

    I'll let you know how the experiment goes when I get home. This way if something goes wrong I won't trash my large Franklin Arms tumblers bowl. I should be able to use liquid compound and a bit of lemi-shine like you do in a steel needle tumbler...
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
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  3. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Make sure you thoroughly wash off that lemi-shine when you're done tumbling.
     
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  4. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    I've been using the steel pins in my tumbler. They do a great job in cleaning my handgun casings including the primer pockets. Ceramic is an interesting thought though. I'm not sure of the diameter though but I would guess they are about 1/4" long. They are steel with a stainless coating so a magnet can be used to separate the media. That's a plus over the ceramic, in my opinion.
     
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  5. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    I would have bought steel pins but they dont seem to work well in the vibratory bowl tumbler that I have and I didn't want to buy a new barrel style tumbler. That's what started me down this road. I was looking for a better media for the tumbler I already have.

    Missouri bound you've got a good point about being able to separate them with a magnet. I figured on just using my rotary separator to get the media out of the cases. Guess I'll find out if it works. Dont see why it wont unless the media gets sticky. I've got the Franklin hand crank separator from the tumbler kit, that sits on top of a bucket for the media to drop into. Rotate it a couple dozen times and the media drops out of the slots. Cases are left in the plastic basket.

    Only problem I ever had was bits of cob or walnut stuck in the primer holes. Had to get it out with a wire. The ceramic bead sizes were chosen to get inside a 223 case and inside the primer pockets but no fine dust to clog the primer flash holes.

    I wasn't intending to buy another tumbler, till I saw that Hornady on sale. As I said after all the discounts, free shipping and added bullets it was free and I just paid for the bullets. And it was only $6 more than buying just an extra tumbler bowl to try this with. I've got an idea that once I start using this media I probably shouldn't use that bowl for anything else. If it works well I'll switch both bowls over to it and get rid of cob dust forever...

    Locutus what's the reason for rinsing the lemi-shine off? Does it etch cases if left on? Or is it a contaminant? I may not run it if it's a problem. The ceramic media can be used dry also with polishing powders. I've never used a wet tumbler yet..
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  6. Greg_r

    Greg_r Well-Known Member

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    Should work. My favorite media is the Lyman stuff though. I like the walnut with the rouge pre mixed. Don’t much care for the stainless pins. Just had too much trouble with the pins getting stuck in flash holes. They can sometimes be a pain to get out, becoming wedged in the flash holes. I use BB’s in my wet tumbler.

    To be fair, walnut can get stuck in a flash hole, and BB’s are about the same size as a small primer, but they are easy to get out when they do get stuck.

    The ceramic media I bet will do a good job.

    Lately I have been just cleaning my brass with dawn, lemishine, and water. No media. Just dump the brass in a colander and give it a shake to get most of the water out then leave them over night in a food dehydrator to dry. Dosent shine the brass so much, but it does get it clean. I am wanting to try one of the sonic cleaners.
     
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  7. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The Lemi-Shine is mildly acidic and over time will eat up your brass.

    I use it along with liquid Tide for wet tumbling, but rinse thoroughly after tumbling.
     
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  8. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    That's good to know. I may avoid the lemi-shine all together. I really dont care that much about the brass being shiny, just clean.

    As I said I've used this media before for precious metal cleaning at the jewelry shop. Its normally used dry, with a spoonful of dry rouge powder dumped in before you start the tumbler. It's easy to clean off so you can change to different grits also. The media can be washed and dried on a baking sheet in the oven.
     
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  9. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    I did not realize it was a vibratory tumbler that you were using.
    I bought the Thumlers (sp) and I have been very happy with it. It's fairly quiet compared to the vibratory ones I have heard. I bought one of the smaller ones since my shooting is more hobby and I don't reload any rifle ammo.
     
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  10. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    I have a question for you. How much life do you get out of your brass where Lemi-Shine will do more damage to it than firing it? Or are you referring to leaving it on the brass rather than the use of it in the cleaning process?
     
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  11. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    Bowl capacity is a big deal for my reloading. At least I'm not reloading 50bmg any more. But I do a bunch of 300 Magnum, 303, 30-06, 308 on the larger end. Smallest I reload is 223, and a handful of pistol calibers. That determines the media size I chose. I usually clean 2-500 cases at a time.

    Some of the brass I use is awfully hard to replace, so case life is a big issue. 30/40 krag and my brass cased cowboy shot shells come to mind. But I've got an 8mm Lebel and a few other rarities in the collection. Brass for those is a lathe project and needs to be protected at all costs.

    I had the smallest model Thumlers at the jewelry shop. I like the barrel tumblers just not the price of a bigger one...

    Yes these are loud, but I set them up. Turn them on and walk away. Close the basement door and I dont hear it at all. The washer and dryer are down there too. So it's no louder than that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  12. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    The round media you mentioned may just be the ticket for the narrow necks. I can't see it getting stuck in there.
     
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  13. dwmiller

    dwmiller Well-Known Member

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    That's the main reason I didn't buy any 5mm spheres. The smaller stuff should just pour out.

    I might add some 10mm spheres if I need more media volume to fill the bowl up. They wont go into many cases I use. 40S&W, 45ACP and 458 Socom would be the only likely issues. Maybe 45/70 if I ever buy one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  14. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was referring to leaving it on the brass after cleaning.

    I don't think it does any harm when used for cleaning as long as it's washed off afterwards.
     
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  15. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    Got it. Just checking.
     
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  16. partdeux

    partdeux Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Actually Lemi Shine can do damage. It's highly acidic and attacks the grain boundaries. How much is too much? How long is too long? I chose to stick with walnut/corn combo after doing research on wet tumbling.
     
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  17. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

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    It's a personal preference what you use to clean your brass just like it's a personal preference as to which guns you own or shoot. I chose the stainless pins and a tumbler because I like the way it cleans the brass and the primer pockets. In my opinion the cleaner and shinier the brass is the easier it is to inspect for any case deformation or damage.
    I'm sure there is absolutely nothing wrong with the walnut shell techniques or vibratory cleaners. Actually I think the wet tumbling method may be a little more messy and time consuming. But as I have said before, this is my hobby. Spending a little extra time during the processes is a good thing in my eyes.
     
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  18. PaPow

    PaPow Active Member

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    Equipment: Frankfort wet tumbler
    I use stainless pins and lemme shine and ICE car wash in my wet tumbler.
    Tumble 2 to 3 hours w/1 teaspoon car wash & 1/4 teaspoon lemme shine.
    I also use distilled water during tumbling process. Rinsed with tap water.


    I rinse in 3 steps...
    1) rinse with the pins & brass - refill water, run a few minutes.
    2) separate the pins & brass - rinse and tumble again few minutes.
    3) one final rinse (to make sure ALL lemme shine is completely rinsed away)

    Now i roll out a large thick beach towel, dry off excess water. Roll brass to center of towel, pick up the towel like a sack, shake the brass for a couple minutes to remove any excess water that was inside the brass. Then into the heated (120 degree`s) dehydrator for one hour (to 2 hrs at the most) depending on what size caliber of brass i`m drying.

    I have a large cookie sheet that i spread out the pins on, toss them in the kitchen oven and dry them out at 190 degrees until dry. Pull them out, set them on the counter top and let them cool down. When done, the pins go into a zip lock bag, stored inside the tumbler drum until next usage.

    I don't know of ANY other media besides stainless pins that can clean the primer pockets as good as the wet tumbler with pins. I use to use corn cob and or walnut for YEARS, got tired of plugged primer pockets, and all the dust. Not to mention having to take up a lot more room with all the media sitting around waiting to be used. I don't find that wet tumbling is any more work than dealing with the old corn cob method. Sure, there are trade off`s. You`ll have that to debate that with anything you do. I like wet tumbling, case`s look better than brand new when done. And who dosen`t LOVE shiny brass.

    I don't shoot rifles anymore, so i don't worry about cleaning the brass for them. I do shoot a lot of pistol calibers though. I don't tumble as often as some people do, i don't see the point, OR need. Be aware, that stainless pins CAN remove some of the brass off from the case`s... as you can see tiny particles of brass in the rinsing cycle... so i might tumble my brass after 3 to 5 or so reloads... it will depend on how dirty the case`s are.

    As for lemme shine... use with caution! You don't need to use very much!
    Rinse your brass several times to make sure you got it all removed.
    I`ve tried ALL kinds of detergents... the ICE car wash worked the best.
    Not a water spot can be found after i switched to ICE car wash.
     
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  19. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why the food dehydrator??? Oven works faster and holds more brass.
     
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  20. PaPow

    PaPow Active Member

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    Only gonna fit just so much brass in the tumbler. Therefore, hydrator works perfect.
    And i dont have to listen to my wife about using the oven all day...lol.

    Mine is an actual brass dryer. Not a food dehydrator.
    And your brass wants to be dried at a very low temperature with alot of air movement.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018