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  1. #1
    Expert Doublehelix's Avatar

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    Wet Tumbling - No Pins

    My wet tumbling has evolved over the last few years as I became lazier and have so much brass to process...

    The first thing to go was to stop de-capping before washing. Who cares about nice shiny primer pockets, right???

    Now for the heck of it, I decided to try wet tumbling WITHOUT the SS pins. I have read other posts of folks doing this, but I never wanted to try it since I at *LEAST* want the inside of the cases clean, even if the primer pockets are dirty, right???

    Well...

    I had about 10-12 loads of pistol brass waiting to be cleaned, and the hardest part about wet tumbling for me is separating out the pins at the end. I decided to be lazy and try a couple of loads without pins and compare the results.

    Just as I suspected! The outside of the cases are nice and shiny (the brass-on-brass peening will shine up the outside), and the inside of the cases are "cleaner", but still somewhat black.

    Some folks like clean insides so they can see the powder level in the cases, but with the overhead light in my press, I can still see inside just fine.

    It is SO MUCH easier to clean after a run. I just basically pour the brass into a colander after the run, and rinse well. Done. Wow. That was easy!!!

    I think I have decided for bulk pistol cases, this is fine. I process and load about 16,000 - 20,000 pistol cases a year, and this definitely speeds up the process.

    For more precision loads (rifle), I will continue to decap and will continue to use pins, but for the bulk loads of pistol brass, I think I can live with the dirty case interiors. At least for a while...

    Obviously, YMMV.
    James

    "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake"
    ~Napoleon Bonaparte~

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  2. #2
    Shooter

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    "10-12 Loads of pistol brass"
    If you don't mind me asking, about how much in a 'Load'?

    I think it's 'Southern Shine' that makes the chips instead of pins, and the chips work faster, particularly on pistol brass.
    Not cheap, but they do work.
    I also found them to be easier to filter out of the pistol brass, the average media separator got them out rather easily.

    I quit decapping on the common range practice brass when the volume got out of hand, and I can't really say stains inside the case or a little carbon in the primer pocket has made any difference in the loaded rounds, even when I was running straight through a progressive.
    Spent primer out, new primer in and around for reloading, no issues I could detect.
    I got over high polish a long time ago... As long as their clean and they run, I don't care.
    Not that I shoot a lot of pistol anymore, I never was really good at it, something else I can admit now...

  3. #3
    Grandmaster Kirk Freeman's Avatar

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    How long can you continue to have gack inside the case build up and not impact internal pressures?
    A Sigma and a SIGma male

  4. #4
    JHB
    JHB is offline
    Plinker

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    How is wet tumbling without pins that much different than ultrasonic cleaning?
    Price wise the equipment is about the same and the ultrasonic can be used for other cleaning chores.
    The reason I ask this is because the people that I know that wet tumble think ultrasonic is a inferior method at cleaning brass.
    To me the only up side to wet tumbling is shiny brass at the cost of more work.

  5. #5
    Plinker Good on paper's Avatar

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    The pins are a bit of a PITA to separate but I bought a couple 6 to 8 inch diameter wire mesh kitchen strainers and doubled up the screen to retain the pins while washing off the cleaned brass in the tumbler. The rest of them come out in my media separator.
    Jim are you using Lemi shine and dish soap?
    TY104591

  6. #6
    Shooter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Freeman View Post
    How long can you continue to have gack inside the case build up and not impact internal pressures?
    It's not crud that builds up, it's just discoloration.
    Same with primer pocket when you knock out the primer first, just discolored.
    You don't knock the primer out first, and there can be hard carbon left in the primer pocket.

    Doesn't matter what you use, the inside of the case takes hours of cleaning with pins or chips to shine up.
    With soap, water and a little acid to beat hard water, open cases like most pistol clean really quickly, like 10 or 20 minutes quickly, the inside will still be a little stained, the hard carbon will be gone.
    If the primers are knocked out, there might be a speck or two of carbon left in the pocket, but they are usually cleaned.

    One tip,
    If you tumble with primers in, you MUST dry the cases before storage.
    Leaving wet primers in the cases then storing will allow corrosion to creep in making the primers hard to remove, and potentially damage the primer pocket.

    If you are processing right away, I just bang out the water, throw dry media polish (Walnut) right in the tumbler,
    Damp (not wet) brass polishes right up, and what little moisture is left just keeps the dust down.
    Once they are washed they polish up MUCH quicker, and your polishing media last much longer when the oily gunk isn't plugging it up.

  7. #7
    Expert Doublehelix's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
    "10-12 Loads of pistol brass"
    If you don't mind me asking, about how much in a 'Load'?
    I fit a standard coffee can's worth of brass into each load. That is close to 1,000 9mm, about 600 .40 and maybe 500 or so of .45.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Freeman View Post
    How long can you continue to have gack inside the case build up and not impact internal pressures?
    Great question, and this was a concern of mine as well, but the wet tumbling without pins *does* clean the inside, but doesn't get it shiny by any means. I am definitely going to be keeping my eye on the cases while loading, and if I start to see any build up, I will go back to the pins.

    Quote Originally Posted by JHB View Post
    How is wet tumbling without pins that much different than ultrasonic cleaning?
    Price wise the equipment is about the same and the ultrasonic can be used for other cleaning chores.
    The reason I ask this is because the people that I know that wet tumble think ultrasonic is a inferior method at cleaning brass.
    To me the only up side to wet tumbling is shiny brass at the cost of more work.

    I have seen the ultrasonic cleaners at Harbor Freight, and have almost bought one several times. I might have to look into that as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
    It's not crud that builds up, it's just discoloration.
    Same with primer pocket when you knock out the primer first, just discolored.
    You don't knock the primer out first, and there can be hard carbon left in the primer pocket.

    Doesn't matter what you use, the inside of the case takes hours of cleaning with pins or chips to shine up.
    With soap, water and a little acid to beat hard water, open cases like most pistol clean really quickly, like 10 or 20 minutes quickly, the inside will still be a little stained, the hard carbon will be gone.
    If the primers are knocked out, there might be a speck or two of carbon left in the pocket, but they are usually cleaned.

    This seems to be my experience as well so far.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeepHammer View Post
    One tip,
    If you tumble with primers in, you MUST dry the cases before storage.
    Leaving wet primers in the cases then storing will allow corrosion to creep in making the primers hard to remove, and potentially damage the primer pocket.
    I dry my brass (with the spent primer in place) in a brass dryer right away. Haven't seen this be an issue yet.
    James

    "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake"
    ~Napoleon Bonaparte~

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  8. #8
    Shooter

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    Doublehelix,

    You never know what people are going to do!
    So you ask questions and throw in warnings...

    My first wet 'Tumbler' was an igloo water jug with screw on lid that held about half gallon.
    My second was an ice cream maker. The plastic paddles agitated the brass and it cleaned much faster.
    It worked so well that when a buddy set his up we dipped the steel paddles in vinyl and ran it.

    I haven't checked on ultrasonic in over a decade (or two), what I found back then was volume issues, they just didn't hold very much, but that might have changed... All the units back then we're pretty much for jewelry...

    I mention wet primers and storage, because I made that mistake.
    Got in a hurry running oddball, kind of hard to find brass, threw them in a sealed ammo can and left them about a year before I remembered them.
    It didn't turn out well, much of the brass was unusable.
    I'm sure the 11 months or so was the big factor, but it was a corroded mess.
    Live & learn...

    One thing I do with smaller batches is paint strainers for 5 gallon buckets,
    Simply dump pins/chips & brass in the bucket/paint strainer to separate water from solids,
    Then dump brass, pins/chips into the separator and rattle the pins/chips out of the brass (and the last of the water).
    Bucket size paint strainers are dirt cheap and live a fair life in this application.

    I had to build a cement mixer sized separator drum, no one I know builds one.
    Expanded metal sides, center shaft, motor, tin to direct pins/dry media down into a catch tub.
    For batches your size, the commercial plastic units are big enough, but I would suggest you get one with the bucket/base that sits in a 5 gallon bucket.
    Having it lifted up with a 5 gallon bucket keeps you off the floor, and if your volume demands, you can take the bottom out of the separator & use the bucket for the catch container.

    Just some ideas, use what you can...

  9. #9
    Plinker

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    I have wet tumbled with the frankford arsenal tumbler for years with pins. Time consuming with the pin separation, but insides were like a brass mirror.

    Had trouble with pistol cases sticking to the expander/powder funnel on a dillon progressive. Came across a thread commenting on how some were "no pin" tumbling and the slight carbon film left on the inside minimized the sticking. After I tried "no pin", sticking did go away. Rinsing & pouring out brass to dry now just a couple minute job.

    Also learned of using armor-all wash & wax that leaves a slight film of silicone that further helps with dillon expander funnel sticking. The film will keep the brass from tarnishing during storage.

    Now on very dirty range pick up brass, i tumble with dawn (teaspoon) and lemishine (teaspoon). Have to take care and not leave brass in lemi-shine solution for very long because it will begin to discolor brass, so rinsing right after tumbling. Then tumble for a short time with armor-all wash & wax.
    I rinse once after this to avoid washing away all the film left by the armor-all, then dry. Outsides are extremely shiny and the insides are a dull brass color but clean with slight carbon residue.

  10. #10
    Plinker Good on paper's Avatar

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    I just started wet tumbling a month or so ago and havenít tried it without pins but Iím going to run the next batch without. I donít really care about super shiny I just want them clean enough to load and run. I will pick up some .40 thatís baked in the sun for a while, itíll be interesting how those turn out.
    TY104591

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