A couple of weeks before I got my press, I started working my way through all of the various range brass I'd collected, decapping manually and tumbling in small batches in my old rock tumbler. The "recipe" I've used is always the same: water just to cover, a dash of dawn dish soap and a pinch of citric acid. I tumble for about two hours, and other than the inside edge of the primer pockets, everything has come out really clean.
In the last batch however, everything (even the nickle plated stuff) came out more of a coppery or rose gold color. Here's a photo of the batch, with six pieces from an early batch in the center for comparison:
The culprit is obviously the berdan-primed case that made its way in there with the rest (seen at the bottom of the first photo). For the curious, here's the headstamp:
I can read "COLT" and ".223REM" but even in person the last bit is unrecognizable. Not that it matters too much what caused this, I'm just curious if there is any possibility that this is anything other than just discoloration? I.e. is there any reason this brass wouldn't be safe to use?
I have plenty of .223 and 5.56 brass already, and prudence would lean towards discarding anything even vaguely suspect, but I'm really curious about this simply because it's something I haven't seen before.
I will probably toss them all back into the tumbler (sans the problem case) and see what happens, but wondering if anybody has seen and/or dealt with something like this before?
I guess I have partially answered my own question with some web searches. It doesn't look dangerous, and is usually caused by too much acid. I've never done any kind of measuring other than "a pinch" for the loads, and I don't think this one was far off any of the others, so I'm still thinking it had something to do with that rogue case that got mixed in with the rest. Especially since the pinkness even infected the two nickle-plated cases in the batch (they are almost indistinguishable from the others, and while I know they are there, even I can't quite make them out in the photo).
I won't worry too much about this, throw out the mangled stuff that also got mixed in, and either re-tumble or not as time permits.
I wouldn't even bother with re-tumbling.
There are color additives using various chemicals that will color the brass blue or purple or whatever; the coloration won't hurt the brass, and some use it for quicker identification on the range.
I'm lazy and still reload using handheld lee handpresses; I always have. It takes forever. I don't bother tumbling any of the brass at all. I used to clean primer pockets. I don't do that, either. By the time I've handled the brass several times and lubed them during the process, it's clean.
It's not going to hurt your brass to not tumble them a second time. If you're concerned about chemical damage (I wouldn't be), tumbling won't fix that, anyway.
My experience has been that too much acid will cause the discoloration that you describe. Good news is that it's not deep. In fact, if you have a dry media tumbler (corncob media & polish), it will brighten right up.
Like sns3guppy said, won't hurt anything to load them up & shoot them like they are.
Agree with others,that was a hell of a pinch of citrus acid.
Just tumble in your dry meadia and load them up.
I thought it was too much acid at first, but this is the 20th (give or take) load I've tumbled with the same amount of acid (give or take) and the only one to turn pink. A bit more research online this weekend led me to the conclusion that it was the steel case causing the issue.
My chemistry is really rusty, but it's apparently due to the dissimilar metals causing a reaction. I've tossed these cases into the general pool of 5.56/.223 and will reload them eventually with the others.
Thanks for the replies!
|Plowing straight ahead come what may|
I don’t use too much Lemishine (maybe 1/2 teaspoon...I use a .45 ACP case full) and a good squirt of Dawn or whatever liquid dishwasher soap you use...tumble for two hours in the Frankford Arsenal tumbler with pins...never seen strange colors...I would not worry about it...if 45 Cal recommends to not stress out about it...it’s good advice
"we've gotta roll with the punches, learn to play all of our hunches
Making the best of what ever comes our way
Forget that blind ambition and learn to trust your intuition
Plowing straight ahead come what may
And theres a cowboy in the jungle"
Ok, now I understand. I did not realize that you were talking about steel when you said berdan primed. Yes, steel will cause a nasty reaction to the brass when used with the lemshine, and it doesn't take much. Good thing is that it's only cosmetic. I'd still load them & shoot them.
Yeah, I didn't realize it was steel at first. I thought it was just a particularly dirty brass case when I tossed it in with the rest. I tumble the berdan stuff mostly as a curiosity (only found a handful) and at some point wanted to take a clean one and pry out the primer just to have examples of both types. That'll teach me to deviate from what works. :-)
I knew as soon as I saw your photo. Honestly, as you learn to sort and process brass, you will be able to just cull the junk without having to work it further. Guess I am old school as I have had 7 or 8 large capacity tumblers and one medium size. I would have 3 running in a closet at the same time with 06 brass for my M1s. My brass was sized, deprimed, swaged and trimmed before it even made it to the tumblers. Bet I had over 200,000 .45 ACP cases processed and ready to load. I always used corn cob or walnut so these new fangled water and dish soap, stainless pins and chips, baking in the oven are all foolish to me. Even today I would use the methods I learned. Same as cleaning guns and gun parts in water or dish water...give me a break please?
I should add, that steel case, if forced into your sizer die is going to ruin your day. Learn what you have and cull the junk.
I'm definitely learning as I go. Part of the reason I got the universal decapping die was to avoid doing any damage to my good dies while processing brass. It also lets me spend time sorting and decapping (and later tumbling) brass that I don't intend to reload right at the moment. I've had a few berdan primers sneak in on me, but don't really hammer on the press, so they have been discarded without any damage to the pin, and this is the first steel case that made it as far as tumbling. None have made it past that point to resizing, thankfully.
As for wet vs dry tumbling, it was an easy choice for me. I already owned a small rock tumbler I bought for one of my kids years ago. I paid money for the press and dies of course, but so far have tried to keep reloading expenditures pretty low as I learn the ropes (and figure out if this is something I really enjoy as a hobby).
I had the Lyman Universal decapper and it is a strong tool. I used the little RCBS primer pocket brush on all primer pockets. Yes its repetitive work but cleans them nicely. My answer to media in just about every flash hole is a .080 diameter drill bit, hand held. Takes the corn cob right out. There are all kinds of little tricks you will create to make loading more fun. And the end product can be as close to perfect as you wish while saving you a bunch of money.
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