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Case cleaning/polishing

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:51 pm
by Jack D
I know most use a vibrator or tumbler to clean cases. I hate to spend money for a machine when I think I should be able to make one cheaper than buying one. I haven't settled on a design yet but had a bunch of very dirty brass. I finished loading a 50 round box with black brass and decided to clean up the loaded rounds. I have a Lee spinner/shell holder for drill motor use and thought about spinning with fine steel wool.

Then I remembered a can of Brasso (actually a different brand, but the same stuff) in one of my dresser drawers. It is over 30 years old and I wondered if it was any good. To my surprise it is like new. I wiped the head end of the cartridge with a piece of Brasso and it cleaned up beautifully with only a few twists. Then I chucked up the cartridge in the drill motor (variable speed) and turning it slowly I applied the Brasso wad to the case. It immediately started to shine after only a few turns. Wiping with a soft cloth and it shined better than new. It took me about 30 seconds/cartridge to make them look like new.

That might seem like a long time to make cartridges shine. but the results gave me a certain satisfaction. Not sure why. They won't shoot any better, I'm sure.

Does anyone else polish their brass to a high gloss?

Is there any harm using a product like Brasso?

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:38 am
by blue68f100
When I first saw the title I was thinking you made a tumbler out of and old drier. I have read several places where this has been done due to the volume they needed to clean.

As long as there is no ammonia in the brasso you will be fine. The ammonia causes inner granular corrosion and will cause the brass to crack.

There is a home made mix you can do a chemical clean if you decide to do a large batch. I do not do the chemical clean because I hate having to deprime before reloading and the drying process.

Years ago I use to only by Ni coated pistol brass because all I needed to do was wipe them down. Back then I only had revolvers, no automatics. Now that I have an AP press, I broke down and got a tumbler to clean the brass. It want clean some of the black stain that gets on the brass over time though. I use a 20/40 grit corncob with NuFinsh car polish added to the mix. With the dryer sheets collecting dust. I think if you get the right dose of car of polish the brass does not tarnish anywhere near as fast. I try not to handle my brass with my bare hands once I have it cleaned. With the brass feeder on my LNL I just dump and start loading. Now some use crushed walnut shells and a mix of walnut shells and corncob. The walnut shells is more abrasive and cleans better but lives a dull finish the reason they add corncob to the mix.

Now the new thing is SS media in a soap solution. They use the drum tumbler used for rocks. Now this setup comes out brighter and cleaner inside and out. Again you need to deprime when you using a liquid cleaner to keep from trapping the solution. Using the SS media allows you to reuse it, it never where outs.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:40 pm
by Jack D
The actual product I was using is NevR Dull Metal Polish. It looks and smells just like the Brasso I used while in the USN. Amazing stuff. It took a very dirty, black cartridge and shined it better than new in only a few seconds of rubbing.

It has a couple of doesn't clean or polish the inside of the case (but is that really necessary?). It is also time consuming. It turns your fingers black, but gloves would prevent that or waterless soap will remove it.

Advantages? Can be done on the completed cartridge. It doesn't require any special equipment. I used a VS drill motor, but can be used entirely by hand.
One canister will polish thousands of cases. I used one small wad about the size of a quarter to do a whole box of 50 rounds. ... &FORM=HURE

These three cartridges were literally black before I polished them.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:12 pm
by Jack D
blue68f100 wrote:When I first saw the title I was thinking you made a tumbler out of and old drier. I have read several places where this has been done due to the volume they needed to clean.
I haven't decided what type to make. I like the rock tumbler/liquid type. Water, detergent, and lemon juice are simple and cheap. Drying would be a bit harder with this type. Of course a tumbler can be used with walnut shells or corn cob, too. Still thinking about this. Both of my sons have the vibrator types. One uses corn cob and the other walnut shells. They both like what they have.

Since I'm retired with lots of time on my hands, maybe I'll just use the NevR Dull when I feel the need to polish. It is a time consuming job, but still satisfying at the same time.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:44 pm
by Hakaman
My main concern is reliability of the ammo I load, then how it looks is 2nd or
3rd. As soon as you shoot it, it get dirty anyway. I think a clean primer pocket
is a good thing, and it's associated hole.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:33 pm
by bgreenea3
A little Flitz in the corn cob media cut the tumbling time in half

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:12 pm
by Bullseye
I like to use a Thumbler's Tumbler (Model B) and walnut shell media. Corn cob polishing media works fine but the walnut shells are far more durable and polish the brass to a finer texture. I have several of these tumblers running at a time to clean and polish brass. You can run 10-15 pounds of brass at a time with these tumblers. If you like to decap your brass first before polishing then the walnut shells can get trapped in the flash holes from time to time. I use Dillon Rapid Polish 290 to keep the media fresh and longer lasting.

You can make your own rotary tumbler but the internal rubber hexagon shape does a great job turning the cases and moving the media for great polishing.


Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:20 pm
by xp100
Soak the brass cases in a mixture of concentrated lemon juice (from the grocery store) and water for no longer than 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water and dry. This metod does not polish, but cleans the brass very well. No need to deprime first.

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:24 pm
by greener
I use the Franklin vibrator tumbler, walnut shells and, sometimes, the case polisher that came with the tumbler. Works fine. Doesn't give me an inspection grade brass polish, but it does a fine job of cleaning up the brass.

The Thumler's Tumbler line look like a great choice.


Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:20 am
by stork
I've been using a Thumblers vibrater for about 25 years. Used to just use the corn cob media, but got irritated when it didn't last very long. Then switched to treated walnut shells, much better longevity.

Now I still use ground up walnut media, just not treated. You can get 25-50# sacks of this stuff at your pet store, sold as lizard cage litter. It doesn't put the shine on like the treated stuff, but my purpose is to clean the brass of any debris to avoid scratching my dies. You also don't feel guilty about throwing it out when it no longer cleans well because of the low cost.


Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:03 pm
by Medicine Hat
I've been using a Thumbler's vibrator, crushed walnut hull, and Dillon's Rapid Polish 290 for many years with great results. I get both walnut hull and corncob media from pet stores as it's much cheaper that way. I don't use a lot of corncob, but occasionally I will run it after the treated walnut hull cleaning, but run it dry, mostly to sort of clean off the polish. Probably not necessary, but it's just the way I've done it.
Anyway, it seems to work well for me.

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:19 pm
by greener
Tonight I threw a half-gallon of .45 ACP brass into the Franklin vibrating polisher, added the walnut media and topped it off with fresh walnut media. The used media had a gray-green cast and the fresh media was beige. I ran the polisher for an hour and ended up with nicely cleaned and slightly polished brass.

I store used brass in half-gallon plastic buckets. When they get full, I run them through the polisher as described above. I've been doing this for about 5 years. When I bought the Franklin, the reviews of the Franklin were none too positive. Based on the price and performance I've had with this one, I'd rate it an excellent buy.

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:47 am
by jrayb95
I use the Thumbler's Tumbler Model B with the stainless steel media. It gets the brass clean and shiny like brand new brass both inside and outside including the primer pocket.
The media is a little expensive but it will probably last two lifetimes.

Posted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:02 am
by paw080
jrayb95 wrote:I use the Thumbler's Tumbler Model B with the stainless steel media. It gets the brass clean and shiny like brand new brass both inside and outside including the primer pocket.
The media is a little expensive but it will probably last two lifetimes.
Hi J Ray, There is no better method than the Tumbler(not vibrator) and
the Stainless Steel pins. The end result is polished cases, inside and outside
and even primer pockets. You have nothing to clean out of the of the cases
and primer pockets, as you find when using vibratory units.

The super cleaned cases really aid post cleaning case inspection. Yes, it will
cost about $250 for a complete kit, but the pins last forever and the tumbler
itself will last decades before anything breaks. By then, all the spares will still
be available.