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Pin Tumbled Brass.png

I finally got around to trying pin tumbling, it's not quite as good as I'd hoped, but I'm willing to mess with it for a little longer. I'm using a Thumbler's Tumbler that was given to me like 10-15 years ago, that I think I gave away at some point, and then was given back to me, we used to use it for deburring machine parts with little ceramic stones, but that was a long time ago. I think there's still some goo in there from the old uses but over-all the brass did come out a bit more yellow than the golden hue it had before. a little more burnished, and both the pockets and the inside of the cases were quite clean. When I dumped out the tumbler an angry mix of blue/black soup came out.

As far as chemicals, I started with Lemishine (citric acid) and Dawn dish soap. I used 1/2 tbsp of Lemishine and about the same of the Dawn. I opened it up around the 2 hour mark and it seemed like it needed more soap the cases were sort of greasy feeling, so rather than using more dawn, this time I used laundry soap, after another two hours I pulled it all apart, dumped the contents into a sieve to separate out the liquid and washed it in my garage sink thoroughly. I think poured the brass and media back into fresh water, and then picked the cases out of the media/water by hand just to be sure to separate everything. It felt like there was still a little goo on the cases, so if I'm going to do it again, more soap. I might do a tumble with corncob and some media additive to put some wax back on the surface, or maybe I'll try some liquid application waxes. I dunno, just something to keep the brass from oxidizing.

Anyway, if y'all got some tips or pointers, chime in. I've been thinking about getting one of those FA tumblers, they're supposed to do 1000 5.56 at a time. I'm kinda in a weird spot as I do really big loads of 5.56, but really small loads of other calibers.

I have a bunch of really ugly .38 and .357 I'm going to clean up this way next, and then maybe some .30-30.
 
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I use citric acid, bulk from Amazon. Less expensive than commercial products. Add a drop of Dawn dish soap. My water is really bad with mineral, so really rinse. Biggest challenge is getting all the stainless pins out of cartridges. Thanks for your contribution.
 
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Years ago, I had a Thumbler's Tumbler and I used walnut hulls - clean and dry and polished to a bright shine - watch the primer holes for pieces of walnut hull!
 
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View attachment 19614

I finally got around to trying pin tumbling, it's not quite as good as I'd hoped, but I'm willing to mess with it for a little longer. I'm using a Thumbler's Tumbler that was given to me like 10-15 years ago, that I think I gave away at some point, and then was given back to me, we used to use it for deburring machine parts with little ceramic stones, but that was a long time ago. I think there's still some goo in there from the old uses but over-all the brass did come out a bit more yellow than the golden hue it had before. a little more burnished, and both the pockets and the inside of the cases were quite clean. When I dumped out the tumbler an angry mix of blue/black soup came out.

As far as chemicals, I started with Lemishine (citric acid) and Dawn dish soap. I used 1/2 tbsp of Lemishine and about the same of the Dawn. I opened it up around the 2 hour mark and it seemed like it needed more soap the cases were sort of greasy feeling, so rather than using more dawn, this time I used laundry soap, after another two hours I pulled it all apart, dumped the contents into a sieve to separate out the liquid and washed it in my garage sink thoroughly. I think poured the brass and media back into fresh water, and then picked the cases out of the media/water by hand just to be sure to separate everything. It felt like there was still a little goo on the cases, so if I'm going to do it again, more soap. I might do a tumble with corncob and some media additive to put some wax back on the surface, or maybe I'll try some liquid application waxes. I dunno, just something to keep the brass from oxidizing.

Anyway, if y'all got some tips or pointers, chime in. I've been thinking about getting one of those FA tumblers, they're supposed to do 1000 5.56 at a time. I'm kinda in a weird spot as I do really big loads of 5.56, but really small loads of other calibers.

I have a bunch of really ugly .38 and .357 I'm going to clean up this way next, and then maybe some .30-30.
Hello: 35 - 40 yrs ago I did commercial reloading. .223 ad in shotgun news for $140.00 per thousand, highest price at that time. I made a plastic mess screen and attached it to the opening of a cement mixer. The metal pins are your problem mixing with the acid and soap. Use only the soap, water and more citric acid and they come out like GOLD. I put a 5 gallon jug of .223 brass at a time and ran 2 hours then dump. Then rinse with water hose and dump again. They are all looking new then pour in corn cob to dry. Then dump corn cob out in clean container to reuse. I can't remember the actual time on each process so experiment. The plastic screen made everything much easier. The water cleans the best period. Now you have my trade secret, best of luck. Oh by the way if you can find a plastic cement mixer less noise and no metal contact on the brass even better. Mike
 
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I wet tumble all my cases. I use Lemi-shine and dawn. I rinse twice then with water then rinse in denatured alcohol. I then put them neck down on a rolled up towel to drain them out.
 
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Depending on how dirty the brass is, once might not be enough. Another factor is time. Too long is too much.

Range brass might deserve dry tumble then wet

45 min is long enough for wet tumbling with pins

When home recipes aren't getting it done, consider a purpose made cleaner like Boretech.

Fully cleaned brass might want a little graphite/favorite dry lube when seating bullets for competition
 
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Hello: 35 - 40 yrs ago I did commercial reloading. .223 ad in shotgun news for $140.00 per thousand, highest price at that time. I made a plastic mess screen and attached it to the opening of a cement mixer. The metal pins are your problem mixing with the acid and soap. Use only the soap, water and more citric acid and they come out like GOLD. I put a 5 gallon jug of .223 brass at a time and ran 2 hours then dump. Then rinse with water hose and dump again. They are all looking new then pour in corn cob to dry. Then dump corn cob out in clean container to reuse. I can't remember the actual time on each process so experiment. The plastic screen made everything much easier. The water cleans the best period. Now you have my trade secret, best of luck. Oh by the way if you can find a plastic cement mixer less noise and no metal contact on the brass even better. Mike
Hi Mike, I've been a commercial loader for roughly the last 15 years, been reloading personally since I was a teenager. The last few years I've been running nothing but brand new brass as a contract loader. I now load exclusively frangible and lead free ammo for a customer that sells ammo for training ranges. I've done a ton of different stuff over the years. I still have 3 cement mixers from when I used to run a lot more reload. The stuff I used to use when I was more active was hydrosulfamic acid, it's the active ingredient in CLR and does a fantastic job of surface passivating the brass, citric acid also worked, but our solutions wouldn't last as long and we could get more done with the Sulfamic...

Anyways, fast forward to now. we stopped all reloading, focused on new a few years ago (before the panic) and I have a ton of brass leftover from demos, stuff customers sent back (I have no clue why they did this, but I gave them a small credit for it), I'm starting to shoot more NRL/PRS type matches, and I have this ready supply of once fired brass. some of it's nasty, but some isn't too bad, I'm going to start processing it, make it look pretty and just use it for personal stuff.

I was talking with one of my vendors back in June, after 47 years in business (longer than I've been alive) they're calling it quits. They got a 30-day notice from the landlord, they had to move, and they just decided to call it quits. This vendor provided all of my tumbling media, blasting media, equipment, and parts for some of my gear. I bought a lot of stuff, but it was always half a pickup truck full. It was a lot for me. If I wanna buy corncob at prices they were selling it to me for, I have to buy by the truckload. I bought out the last of the 20-40 cob they had (12 bags). At the level I'm planning to use it, I'll burn through 5 bags in the next 6 months, and the other stuff will sit around for a while. Problem is, when it's gone, it's gone, I don't have another supplier outside going to Midway or one of the conventional reloading vendors, which is just not viable price and transport wise.

I'm reminiscing a little bit, but industry is changing fast, and a lot. The days of stable supply chains, local vendors, and reliable stocks is gone, everything is a truckload and a month away. Steel pins and wet rotary tumblers are what looks to be a more stable future, I can still get the pins, they last much much longer, and I can maximize the supplies I have.


Depending on how dirty the brass is, once might not be enough. Another factor is time. Too long is too much.

Range brass might deserve dry tumble then wet

45 min is long enough for wet tumbling with pins

When home recipes aren't getting it done, consider a purpose made cleaner like Boretech.

Fully cleaned brass might want a little graphite/favorite dry lube when seating bullets for competition
I'm mostly just messing around, tumbling a few cupfuls at a time at this point. I don't have enough baseline to know what my baseline should be. For this first tumbling I think it got a lotta crud out of my tumbler that had just been there since however many years ago I last used it. Based kinda on what you and Mike said, I should probably go heavier on the soap, and probably heavier on the acid. I used Citric acid for cleaning brass in small quantities many years ago, the thing with any acid based brass cleaner is how quickly does it eat the zinc out of the surface. Pretty easy to get pink looking instead of gold looking brass.

At the moment, I am doing a brass wash to remove the dust with a little bit of soap, after drying I'll hit 'em with the lanolin case lube and process 'em, before I would do another wash and then tumble in corncob until shiny. What I want, is to do a pin tumble, clean water rinse, and then I want to be able to apply a protectant when they're still wet, I was thinking about trying some automotive waxes, tumble them part on part, while drying. Have you tried like teflon lubes?

Anyways, I appreciate the input, still trying to find my footing.
 
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I have the Franklin Armory one with the see-through ends. Makes me smile like a fool when I see how clean the little batsards come out after only about 45 minutes of tumbling. To get all the pins out, I partially fill the drum with water and shake-shake-shake my booty until I get pretty much all of them out. It doesn't take long at all. Wet tumbling with stainless steel pins is light-years ahead of dry tumbling with lizard bedding. I'll never go back to the previous method.
 
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I have the Franklin Armory one with the see-through ends. Makes me smile like a fool when I see how clean the little batsards come out after only about 45 minutes of tumbling. To get all the pins out, I partially fill the drum with water and shake-shake-shake my booty until I get pretty much all of them out. It doesn't take long at all. Wet tumbling with stainless steel pins is light-years ahead of dry tumbling with lizard bedding. I'll never go back to the previous method.
Oh god, what was that stuff I tried once like a million years ago, it was like lizard bedding or something, but it was these like pea sized kernels of stuff, I ran it in my tumbler, with some .45-ACP brass, and it just plugged every single piece, I had to sit there with a dental pick and a pair of pliers to pick out each little piece, what a nightmare!
 
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I have gotten rid of my pins and gone to Southern Shine stainless chips. I am sure they are just waste from a machining process. But the sharp edges work really well and give a satin glow to the brass.
If I want polished brass I then tumble in walnut shells, and finish with corncob treated with some wax.
I use a lot of range pickup brass , so some is filthy. DR
 
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... what was that stuff I tried once like a million years ago; it was like lizard bedding or something ...
Lizard bedding is crushed walnut hulls, lacking any sort of cleaning or polishing agent. I bought mine in maybe a ten-pound bag for a good bit less than crushed hulls specifically treated for cleaning brass. I never used any sort of polish in my tumbler; I just ran the tumbler until the brass cleaned-up enough for me to be satisfied with how it looked. Then one day, I got the wet-tumbling bug and never looked back. I must have had a balance high enough in my checking account to go for it. Wet is the best way to clean brass, in my worthless opinion...
 

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