Brass cleaning - wet tumble or ultrasonic

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by spittinfire, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Those of you who have used one of these methods or maybe both please share your thoughts.

    I’m tired of dry media tumbling and want something that does a better job. I’ll save the corn cob for brass that just needs a good fluffing.

    I’m leaning towards wet media but have heard that it can be hard on the brass although that seems like a stretch.


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  2. Gun Lover

    Gun Lover Happy to be here

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    Wet tumbling for me - never tried ultrasonic, but stainless steel pins make my brass look brand new.
     
  3. Mike Overlay

    Mike Overlay Lacks seriousness Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Wet tumble.
     
  4. Catfish

    Catfish E Pluribus Mendacium Charter Member Supporting Member

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    I have an ultrasonic cleaner and I only use it for small batches or brass that needs special attention. My black powder cartridges get an US bath when I come home from the range but that's all I use it for.
     
  5. Tailhunter

    Tailhunter I am a Trapper Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Wet is were its at.
     
  6. JimB

    JimB Picking it up slowly. Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    Wet for me, never tried ultrasonic.
     
  7. bigfelipe

    bigfelipe I go my own way... Charter Life Member

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  8. jmccracken1214

    jmccracken1214 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Wet tumble
     
  9. Jerzsubbie

    Jerzsubbie Senior Member Charter Member Benefactor Supporting Member

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    I’ve tried in this order: corn cob, walnut, ultrasonic, wet w pins, wet w/o pins. I still own the equipment for all but wet tumble 99%.

    I found that ultrasonic was better than dry tumbling but not even close to wet tumbling.
     
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  10. Tatershooter

    Tatershooter Member Charter Life Member

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    Wet tumble
     
  11. BowWow

    BowWow Happy to be here

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    I clean parts that have a finish in the ultrasonic. Everything else usually goes in the wet tumbler. Most.........parts with a finish are ok in the wet tumbler and i believe the ultrasonic will remove a creakote finish.....at least on titanium. However......some parts have small crevices that the metal pins used in wet tumbling just wont reach......ultrasonic will get them.

    Btw..... i have an ultrasonic cleaner for sale......
     
  12. JohnFreeman

    JohnFreeman The bane of my existence Benefactor Charter Life Member Supporting Member

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  13. 9146gt

    9146gt Member

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    Clean but not shiny=ultrasonic.

    Tom
     
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  14. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I guess I'm going to get a wet tumbler. I'll have access to an ultrasonic once we get it set up but that's going to be a little while. Thanks guys!
     
  15. Toprudder

    Toprudder Be vewy vewy qwiet. Supporting Member

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    I'm a little late to this discussion, but I've done dry tumbling, ultrasonic, and wet tumbling. I only use my ultrasonic to clean parts now. It will get the cases clean but not shiny. All my brass gets wet tumbled now.

    One downside I have found with wet tumbling is that it gets the inside so clean that the brass will sometimes stick to the expander (45acp mainly). I never had that problem with dry tumbling. To help alleviate the sticking (as well as to keep the brass from tarnishing later) I switched from Dawn dishwashing soap to Armorall Wash-n-Wax. The Armorall leaves a thin film of carnuba wax that helps lubricate the brass as well as prevent tarnish.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  16. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    And I’m assuming the wax doesn’t hurt the powder.


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  17. Criminalcamel

    Criminalcamel Member

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    I do something similar. Wet tumble to get it clean and shiny and then dry tumble in walnut treated with nu finish car polish. Stops the cases from sticking on the press, doesn't do anything to the powder and doesn't tarnish if left in a box for a few years. The wash and wax is genius, so I may switch to that to eliminate a step
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
  18. Mike Overlay

    Mike Overlay Lacks seriousness Staff Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I havent had any issues. Ive been doing it a few years now with car wash n wax soaps
     
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  19. Toprudder

    Toprudder Be vewy vewy qwiet. Supporting Member

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    Does not affect it at all.
     
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  20. ncav8tor

    ncav8tor Well-Known Member Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I've done both. Wet tumbling is where you want to go.
     
  21. Dilligas

    Dilligas Happy to be here

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    I stepped up my wet tumbling game, no pins just dawn and lemishine for 45 minutes.
    20190615_154444.jpg
     
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  22. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    How many 223 can you run at once?
     
  23. Dilligas

    Dilligas Happy to be here

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    I've done 3/4 of a 5 gallon bucket, could probably do a little more.
     
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  24. 9146gt

    9146gt Member

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    For years I had access to a ultrasonic cleaner...it was large enough to put a full size radiator in for cleaning, 240 volts heater was set 190 degrees. Yes it would clean brass the hottest fluid temp equals the best cleaning.
    This unit was set to use a Mill Spec cleaner that would dry cloudy with a film so parts would not "Flash" rust when you took them out

    Tom
     
  25. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Once we get it set up the one I'll be using sounds to be a similar size and also heated. If I go that route I'll be cleaning in large batches for sure.
     
  26. Tarowah

    Tarowah Everybody’s Honey....

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    I just started reloading and only have a media tumbler, I rand 1000ish pieces of brass through raw walnut shell and the brass was just a little cleaner than before it when in.

    I found an additive called “One Shot” made by Hornaday that you add to the media and it is amazing stuff, my brass now looks new.

    I’m sure I’ll move to a wet tumbler once I start reloading more and buy a Dillon setup, but for now it will work.
     
  27. OutLore

    OutLore I'm a Brit.

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    Lol, that looks loud.
     
  28. Dilligas

    Dilligas Happy to be here

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    It is, I have 5 gallons of .45 tumbling in the driveway right now.
     
  29. Dilligas

    Dilligas Happy to be here

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    After 45 minutes
    20190817_131909.jpg
     
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  30. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    So guess what popped up for sale not far from me? Never used, $40 cheaper then I could find online with no shipping or tax.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019 at 11:42 PM
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  31. JimB

    JimB Picking it up slowly. Benefactor Charter Life Member

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    I’ve heard lots of folks say that they dry tumble after wet tumbling. I’ve heard lots of folks tumble in lizard media. I’ve heard lots of folks add a little ca wax to the media.

    I tried the above, I ended up with brass covered in a thin layer of slightly sticky dust, had to wipe each piece with a rag.

    Also tried with dry brass and the hornady green and red medias, got brass with thin layers of green or red compound that I had to wipe off with a rag.

    Threw everything away except the “tumbler”, maybe I’ll try again one day. Any suggestions or is wiping off he brass after dry tumbling just something everyone does but nobody discusses?
     
  32. GaryS

    GaryS New Member

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    Been using a dry vibrator tumbler for years. I do not need to wipe my brass off. Walnut and a cap full of Dillon polish is all I use. At some point, the media needs to be thrown away and start over with new. Corn Cob has also been used. Corn Cob sometimes leaves a little dust when it gets old.
     
  33. spittinfire

    spittinfire Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I don't think I've ever wiped my brass off after dry tumbling. Ive always used corn cob and I've used treated and untreated with no issues.

    Now, the hands down best improvement in dry tumbling media that I've found was completely by accident. I had a 5 gallon bucket full of 9mm brass that I needed to tumble so I sent it with a friend who had access to a HUGE tumbler already loaded with corn cob. The brass came back looking amazing so I asked him what they used and he brought me some. It was corn cob but it was ground up much finer so that it was more like a very fine sand. Since then I've been doing a two stage tumble with course corn cob and then this fine stuff. The fine stuff makes nearly no dust at all.

    Since I'm on batch # 3 of this wet tumbler I can see my process being deprime, wet tumble, trim, dry tumble, load....at least that what I'm going to try.
     
  34. Toprudder

    Toprudder Be vewy vewy qwiet. Supporting Member

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    For pistol brass, I just deprime and then wet tumble with pins.

    But for rifle brass that needs to be lubed, I have settled on the following. I first decap the brass. Then I wet tumble for about 10-15 minutes, just to get the dirt off so I won't scratch my dies. I use Dawn dishwashing soap for this, no Lemishine. If I am going to anneal, I do it at this point. I then lube and resize. (Some people skip the separate decapping step and decap when they size). Then I go back and wet tumble again, with pins, using Wash-n-Wax and a little Lemishine. I finish processing the brass at this point (trim, chamfer, swage if necessary, etc). A little extra work to do it this way, but it makes me happy. :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019 at 12:26 PM
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