Is tumbling with stainless really what its claimed to be?

Oct 25, 2017
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Denver Colorado
#52
I went from dry to wet once I saw the results of a friends frankford arsenal set up. I like not getting dust all over my garage anymore. The wet tumbler is in the basement now and I find it’s a little quieter than dry. I find the least tedious way for me is to fill er up with your brass, throw in your pins, fill with water, add the detergent of your choice (I’ve used both laundry and dish depending what I have on hand) and a pinch of lemmie shine. Depending how filthy the brass is I run anywhere from 2hrs- 2.5hrs. Pour out the filthy water. I also refill the drum again as a “flush” and then dump it into a separator that works pretty well. I give the now separated brass and pins another wash to get the last bit of filth and soap off. I put the brass on a towel and in the warm and dry Colorado days, I put it outside for the day. The pins go outside as well in a bucket to dry as well. In winter I have a box fan that I lay flat on a table with the glass removed and lay the brass on the fan which is set to low. Been doing this for two years now and I’m still satisfied.
 

Sportin Wood

Team Hardwood
Jul 17, 2010
3,208
25
48
The Woods, WA
#53
I stainless tumble everything, then polish in corncob and polish before loading. This prevents them from tarnishing and also helps with the powder dies sticking on pistol brass. For those that argue the bullet seating is rough, then try using this method. I process brass fro some of the top PRS shooters on the side and they have zero issues and have sent back readings with VERY low SD's after loading the brass I've prepared.
 

Strykervet

Resident Phoenix Eye and Dim Mak Instructor
Jun 5, 2011
3,068
1,225
113
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Pierce County, WA
#54
"Vibratory AFTER the cases are loaded?????"
Yeah, carefully, and with mostly corn media and little ammo for a short time. It's just to polish 'em up after being loaded. It's not really necessary but I've never had any problems with it either and I've done it a few times. Winchester does something like this with loaded ammo before boxing it. I'm sure others do too but I've seen the evidence.

What are you presoaking with after sizing/trimming to remove the lube? Or are you washing with a different agent the second time in order to dissolve the case lube? How do you keep the crud from sticking to the lube on the brass and coming out dark and dull? It's my one setback to doing it this way.
 

308pirate

Gunny Sergeant
Apr 25, 2017
4,603
2,140
113
#55
What are you presoaking with after sizing/trimming to remove the lube?
I lube with Hornady One Shot and give the sized cases a soak and a shake in alcohol to remove it.

The cases come out of that spotlessly clean. But they were cleaned before lube/size so there's that. As far as shining them, not something I worry about.

Clean outside is all I want.
 
Dec 12, 2017
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#56
I have 2 friends that shoot at 1k most of the time (one on the US Rifle Team) that tried the rods but went away from this method entirely after experiencing unexplained POI shifts. The issue has gone away with a return to conventional methods. I've been doing a cheap Midway tumbler and walnut hull media (bird cage litter from the pet store) for oh 22 years now with no issues. The flash holes do need to be checked after tumbling; I see about 5% of the cases need a piece of media popped out with a paper clip in each batch. I also use Turtle Wax from the auto parts store or Walmart in the media to reduce dust and polish the cases. Super low tech but effective. No they ain't polished shiny to within an inch of their lives but they are clean enough for the intended use.
 
Likes: tnichols

steve123

Lt. Colonel
Mar 16, 2008
7,713
465
83
Flagstaff, AZ
#57
Yeah, carefully, and with mostly corn media and little ammo for a short time. It's just to polish 'em up after being loaded. It's not really necessary but I've never had any problems with it either and I've done it a few times. Winchester does something like this with loaded ammo before boxing it. I'm sure others do too but I've seen the evidence.

What are you presoaking with after sizing/trimming to remove the lube? Or are you washing with a different agent the second time in order to dissolve the case lube? How do you keep the crud from sticking to the lube on the brass and coming out dark and dull? It's my one setback to doing it this way.
If you're really cool you'l SS clean loaded ammo like me!

Ha, top that one.

JK. of course, lol.
 

milanuk

F'ing nuke
Mar 23, 2002
1,573
80
48
45
Wenatchee WA
#59
I went to rice and never looked back.
I tried that some years ago... really thought I was onto something. Cleaned the 308+ sized cases, and pistol cases (ie straight walled) like nobodies business.

Until I tried cleaning some 223 LC brass :confused:

They plugged up the cases, locked in like Lincoln logs, and almost every single flash hole was blocked.

End of experiment for me.
 

nexusfire

Secks fi millimeet
Sep 9, 2010
1,736
143
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Mesa, AZ
#60
I tried that some years ago... really thought I was onto something. Cleaned the 308+ sized cases, and pistol cases (ie straight walled) like nobodies business.

Until I tried cleaning some 223 LC brass :confused:

They plugged up the cases, locked in like Lincoln logs, and almost every single flash hole was blocked.

End of experiment for me.
I have done this with no issue. Were you using the nishiki rice from amazon?
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
865
407
63
#61
I dont get the dust problem with walnut or cob media?
I mix new finish car wax and mineral spearits in a squirt bottle.
2 squirts around with vibrator on and let go 5 minutes before dirty brass
and a used dryer sheet go in. No dust and clean brass.

After sizing I toss it back in lube and all.
Comes out fine, shiny slick but not tacky and loads well I think.
It is not as pretty as wet tumble or us but no drying or seating problems.

The used dryer sheet costs nothing and takes out a lot of dirt ect and I think extends
the media's life.
 

lash

Swamp Rat
Sep 28, 2012
3,507
1,198
113
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Central Florida
#63
I dont get the dust problem with walnut or cob media?
I mix new finish car wax and mineral spearits in a squirt bottle.
2 squirts around with vibrator on and let go 5 minutes before dirty brass
and a used dryer sheet go in. No dust and clean brass.

After sizing I toss it back in lube and all.
Comes out fine, shiny slick but not tacky and loads well I think.
It is not as pretty as wet tumble or us but no drying or seating problems.

The used dryer sheet costs nothing and takes out a lot of dirt ect and I think extends
the media's life.
Exactly.
 
Oct 29, 2017
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12
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#64
I use the wet method with stainless pins and have no complaints. I have used it for more than four years and think it works great. After final rinse, i pull the cases out one at a time and give em' a little shake, wipe em' off with a towel and put them on another towel to dry for a couple days.
 

shoot4fun

Gunny Sergeant
Oct 27, 2003
3,632
83
48
Riverside, Alabama, USA, etc
#65
I vibratory tumbled with walnut.
I vibratory tumbled with corn cob.
I ultrasonic cleaned with a small Hornady unit.
I ultrasonic cleaned with a Hornady Hot Tub (the big-ass one).
Then I tried wet tumbling with SS pins, Dawn (or the Publix brand) and Lemi-Shine.
Of all those I like the clean I get from the last method best. Too clean, you ask? I use Imperial Dry Neck Lube inside the necks when I load squeaky clean brass. It helps ease the trip over the expander ball (yes I still use them) and provides for nice even seating pressure on bullets.
At this time, I am experimenting with wet tumbling as above minus the pins. Thing is, so far, I think it is just about as good and offers the added benefits of no peening and less clean up time.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
865
407
63
#67
First of all I was distracted while posting, so.
It's Nu Finish car polish from wallmart and mineral spirits from the paint department.
Don't quote me on the cost but when mixed will be twice the volume of comecial
products for about 50% cost. I mix mine about 2-1, 2 parts spirit to one wax.

The spirits thin the wax to distribute in my walnut and help clean the brass.
I use a cheap squirt bottle from the cooking section and just shake it up.
About 2 full squirts in used media keeps it going strong.
May take about twice that initially.

Anyway you are in it for about 12$ total and twice the volume.

Just left some dirty range brass go i set a timer and go on with my day.
I go 4 hours for full up nasty on the first run, probably can cut that but I like it shiney.
 

Sportin Wood

Team Hardwood
Jul 17, 2010
3,208
25
48
The Woods, WA
#68
I use Nu Finish as well as the Dillon polish. I only add the mineral spirits here and there when the bowl gets dirty. But after hearing your usage, I think I may give it a go.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
865
407
63
#70
Used Dillons Polish for years, good stuff!
As a matter of fact will not dergrade any of the fine commercial products.
We ran out and tried locally available cheap products.. that I didn't have to mail order.

Just make sure your wax says amonia free.

Like I said wet tumble is pretty, but more of a chore.
 

HaMMeRSaW2733

Online Training Member
Aug 21, 2018
1
0
1
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#71
I also went from a dry to a wet with ss pins. Cases never looked better. Run the shells in a decap. die and then they get the bath. Yes 223 can be a challenge with the ss pins. But it seems that the same amount of media was getting stuck in the 223 as ss pins. Just check the with a quick glance before you start loading. If it’s plugged, a small screw driver does the trick to clear the issue.
 

aard3

Private
Mar 23, 2011
101
27
28
34
Louisiana
#72
I like it... it's nice to get the brass super clean... not sure it has any actual performance benefits

decap
ss pins
size
trim
toss in tumbler to get lube off
load


my only issue with wet tumbling is we have hard water, and after rinsing it leaves spots not the brass when it dries... kinda annoying.
 

pinhead

Unnecessary Overkill
Nov 30, 2013
385
64
28
Orchard Lake, MI
#73
SS tumble. Only run it for 60-90 minutes. Separate pins, then into the Frankfort dryer which works real well. I keep it on the lowest setting (90 f) and it’s done in about an hour. I have a small container of graphite dry lube I dip the necks in before dumping powder, weekend to work well.
 

JLP.Payette

New Hide Member
Jun 14, 2018
52
22
8
#74
I’ve tried wet tumbling, IMO it’s a waste of time and I prefer dry tumbling with Walnut. Like others said as NuFinish wax to the media to reduce dust.
 

Patruck825

Primer Poker
Mar 4, 2017
1,135
216
63
Northern VA
#75
I tumble with rice, works great, dirt cheap, no dust. If you're using cases with large flash holes i recommend buying the nishiki rice from amazon. its fat and wont get stuck in the flash holes. i have small flash hole cases and just use the walmart brand rice, works fine, can clean a lot of cases before it needs replacing.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
865
407
63
#76
So when my walnut runs out I may try the rice, I want fat rice evedently?
Can I add my wax / spirits to that as normal?
Can I dump wax covered resized brass in it?
 

Patruck825

Primer Poker
Mar 4, 2017
1,135
216
63
Northern VA
#77
So when my walnut runs out I may try the rice, I want fat rice evedently?
Can I add my wax / spirits to that as normal?
Can I dump wax covered resized brass in it?
I don’t know that you need it, my cases come out clean and shiny with no additives, but you can experiment, rice is cheap enough.

Yes, I routinely tumble my cases that are covered with sizing lube to remove it. I typically run my fired cases for about 6 hours, and then another hour or so after sizing to get rid of all the lube
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
865
407
63
#81
What it's worth, these were fairly clean range brass done for 4 hrs.
A couple of factory rounds for reference. 20181104_145343.jpg 20181104_144307.jpg
 

Strykervet

Resident Phoenix Eye and Dim Mak Instructor
Jun 5, 2011
3,068
1,225
113
42
Pierce County, WA
#82
I like it... it's nice to get the brass super clean... not sure it has any actual performance benefits

decap
ss pins
size
trim
toss in tumbler to get lube off
load


my only issue with wet tumbling is we have hard water, and after rinsing it leaves spots not the brass when it dries... kinda annoying.
Try the shit you put in dishwashers to eliminate spots. It works pretty well, I suspect it'll do the same thing on brass.

Maybe one of these days I'll score a good US cleaner for a good price that can handle bulk loads of say, 1000 pieces of .50 BMG. US is the way to go for smaller brass and I use that Hornady US cleaner for that and get great results.

The pins are the main problem with wet tumbling, that and lube. It's so easy for one to get missed and enter the press. And it doesn't wash lube off, it just spreads it evenly over the pins, the brass and the tumbler. With .50 I at least have that moment where I have to rub the lube off, inspect the case and knock out any remaining pins. Doesn't take too much time and it works well. With a 650, I don't get that opportunity. I suppose a magnetic die could be made that would pull any pins out. But those of you that use ceramic balls? I have no idea how you ensure none of those get stuck.

So if you wet tumble, have a plan on how to remove the one or two pins that may get by in say, thousands of pieces of brass.
 
Aug 5, 2013
585
51
28
Bullhead City ,AZ
#83
Been using wet with SS pins for 5 years with ZERO issues. I de-cap my brass then clean in a Dawn and Lemi Shine mix. Note I use about 3/4 of a tea spoon of the Lemi Shine. I tumble for 4 to 5 hours rinse 2 twice in water then use denatured alcohol to displace any water in the case then set them neck down to drain any fluid that might be left over. I have had no accuracy issues and when I shoot 1000 yard or ELR matches.
 

frost1235

New Hide Member
Nov 3, 2018
13
3
3
Where it snows
#84
Dish soap, lemishine, and warm water gets my brass looking new. Even with just an hour of tumbling, the primer pockers are near spotless. I'll rinse with water and drain, and use a dedicated dehydrator to really get the brass right.

I didn't like the vibration tumblers because they were loud as hell, and took way to long to get the same results.
 
Last edited:
Feb 14, 2017
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#85
Good post, frost. I don't dehydrate except for an oven for 30 mins on 230* or dehumidifier intake for a few hours. I really like rice as the alternative but had a few pieces of brass that ended up with rice cakes in the bottom after lube, size and tumble to clean. SST has worked very well for me and I don't plan on going back to vibratory anytime soon.
 
Mar 13, 2002
27
18
3
Upstate NY
#87
I experimented with using all kinds of cheap/inexpensive media from various sources. Tried crushed walnut shells and different sizes of corn cob from the pet stores, and none really worked well. Larger size corn cob (trying not to have pieces stuck in flash holes) worked well for .38 and .45 brass, but clogged inside .223 cases and just wouldn't come out. Walnut cleaned well but didn't polish like I wanted it to. Both were dusty after a few uses.
Tried this stuff from McMaster: https://www.mcmaster.com/32725k48
Its a very fine corn cob that is used for media blasting. So fine that it flows right through the flash holes, never a piece lodged any more. The 10 pound box has lasted me over a decade too. I add a squirt of the liquid Flitz, or any cheap auto polish I can find, and the brass comes out so clean it looks like jewelry. Makes it easy to discern your brass at a match too. And adding a little Isopropyl helps keep the dust to a minimum, although it can be dusty. Run time is longer than the Stainless media options, but there's no drying, so it's probably a wash in that aspect.
 
Likes: Snuby642
Mar 9, 2017
59
24
8
#90
I tumble stainless pins with wash&wax and Lemishine. I’ll add a little Costco dish soap too if they are super dirty. No complaints so far.
 

mrtoyz

Armchair Commando
Jul 11, 2009
445
46
28
Western WA
#91
Used corn media for years, got smart and went to stainless pins, Dawn and Lemishine. Unbelievable difference. Brass looks new inside and out. Need to get rid of my Dillon tumbler and separator.
 
Dec 12, 2017
57
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#93
I run the tumbler with no brass in it for a while when adding more wax. Have not thinned it to date with anything, just put it in, even older pretty dried out bottles of Turtle Wax.
 
Mar 17, 2007
937
35
28
New Jersey
#94
Grungy brass I will use the FART wet tumbler with NO pins. Just hot water, dawn, and a touch of Lemishine. Spares me from having to separate the pins which I do not find enjoyable. The primer pockets are still not spotless and the inside of the case walls are not super clean but that’s OK with me.

Most of the time (90%) its just easier to dry tumble in walnut for about 3 hours. I’m happy with the end result.