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Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
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My 10 + year-old Frankford Arsenal tumbler died this weekend. It's had a good run, and I used and abused it, so I've considered just buying another one and carrying on where I left off. But I'm also tempted to try out wet tumbling, and since I'm about due for some new media as well, this would be a good time to make that jump if I'm going to do it. So I'm going through my regular cost/benefit process, and this is where I'm at:

Lead Exposure: We've all dumped the dry media out of the tumbler and got a big whif of that dust that poofs out. There's no way that can be healthy. I'm assuming a wet process mitigates this.

I clean brass in my uninsulated garage, year-round. In the winter, there are a couple of months where it gets well below freezing in there. I'm not sure if the motion of a tumbler will keep that from being a problem, or if I'm likely to have a giant ice cube or slush ball to deal with. Anybody else deal with this?

How much of a pain is separating steel media? Currently I use a "customized" collander to dump the media and brass into, shake it around to get rid of most of the media, then manually dump what's left in each case. That manual dump step plays into my inspection process, and I get to handle and look over each case, so I don't mind doing it, but dry corncob media falls right out...if wet steel pins stick or adhere and require more effort to remove, I'd like to know that up front.

How do you dry your brass?

Cost I think will be about the same over time, as I won't have to pay to replace disposable media (not a huge cost, but I've had to buy a new bag every couple of years).

Any other advice, or comments on things I maybe haven't considered?
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Only my opinion....

Wet tumbling is the way to go!!

Its cleaner - no dust. Run times are much shorter. And cases come out factory fresh.

After buying the tumbler and media, it only costs water and dish soap.

Just plan ahead for drying time. I clean, separate media and cases, and set them in the sun to dry. Simple.

Andrew



Duty is the sublimest word in the English Language - Gen Robert E Lee.
 
Posts: 866 | Registered: May 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
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^^ How do you separate your media from the brass? And have you used other methods to dry (can't always count on the sun up here)? I have a toaster oven in the shop...is that a horrible idea?
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Those little stainless pins are fairly easy to separate with a "media separator" The rotary type. Mine is from RCBS and Dillon makes one that is very similar.

Personally, I don't use the pins very often. They occasionally get stuck in flash holes and need to be visually inspected and removed if necessary. If you aren't trying to get the inside of your brass and primer pockets super clean, just tumbling in water with blue dawn (no media) is more than sufficient. Laying them out on a towel for a couple days will get them dry. If I'm in a hurry, they get tossed into a food dehydrator for a few hours. I think I saw Jerry Miculek put them on a cookie sheet and throw them in the oven. I guess it comes down to whatever the wife will allow. Roll Eyes
 
Posts: 18 | Location: North Texas | Registered: June 15, 2022Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you are going to need to buy a new tumbler and media then I would go wet. I switched to wet about 9 years ago. I had some muddy brass that the dry tumbler would not clean at all. One run in the wet and it was clean, I never looked back. I tried the steel pins a couple of times and never use them now. Brass cleans up fine without the hassle of the pins. I live in AZ so just put mine in the sun. I have used the oven in the winter with not enough sun. Toaster oven would work fine. I use some car wash soap with wax, white vinegar, LemiShine. The wax in the car wash soap keeps the brass from tarnishing when it sits in a box.
 
Posts: 196 | Location: Arizona | Registered: August 02, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
The wax in the car wash soap keeps the brass from tarnishing when it sits in a box.


Great tip, thanks!
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The complaint that I have with wet SS tumbling is that it gets the brass too clean, which causes problems with sticking in the resizing die. Yeah, it can be remedied with graphite or other lube, but it's an unnecessary PITA.

I went back to walnut.


________________________________________________________
"Great danger lies in the notion that we can reason with evil." Doug Patton.
 
Posts: 20277 | Location: Montana | Registered: November 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've heard that as well...I'm curious if the car wax solution mentioned above mitigates that at all.
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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92 - Something to consider Sir - The Rebel 17 tumbler would allow you to go either route (dry r wet)…..They are expensive BUT - they are larger than most tumblers on the market today and I am still running mine that I purchased 6 years ago…The only thing I have replaced is the drive belt ($7.00) and I tumble wet (with pins) and dry in this unit….

https://stainlesstumblingmedia...mblers-rebel-17.html
 
Posts: 3275 | Location: MS | Registered: December 16, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
I've heard that as well...I'm curious if the car wax solution mentioned above mitigates that at all.

I spray all my brass with Hornady One Shot before dumping it in my case feeder on my Dillon 650. My sizing die is carbide but the little bit of lube that using One Shot provides makes sizing a breeze. Just because you are using a carbide die does not mean a little lube will not make the process go smoother.
 
Posts: 196 | Location: Arizona | Registered: August 02, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by babue:
quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
I've heard that as well...I'm curious if the car wax solution mentioned above mitigates that at all.

I spray all my brass with Hornady One Shot before dumping it in my case feeder on my Dillon 650. My sizing die is carbide but the little bit of lube that using One Shot provides makes sizing a breeze. Just because you are using a carbide die does not mean a little lube will not make the process go smoother.


I absolutely agree. My progressive is an LNL, and I use carbide dies, but I've found that operation is much smoother if I lube at least once every few cases.
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I use wet almost exclusively anymore. I use my Dillon media separator with enough water in the trough to get the pins to just wash out of the brass. Works like a charm.

For drying the brass, I stole a delicates garment bag from my wife, toss the shoe rack in the clothes dryer and toss the garment bag full of brass on the shoe rack.. again, works great and drys the brass very quickly. I can do a full frankford arsenal wet tumblers worth of brass in one go with room to spare.


Sigs, Berettas, Glocks and more
 
Posts: 353 | Location: LostInDaWoods, ID | Registered: December 01, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well, a little compressed air and few drops of oil and the old Frankford Arsenal is back to purring like a kitten again. I guess we'll see how long that lasts, but when it does go I'll probably be looking at some kind of wet tumbling setup.
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
quarter MOA visionary
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quote:
Originally posted by sigarmsp226:
92 - Something to consider Sir - The Rebel 17 tumbler would allow you to go either route (dry r wet)…..They are expensive BUT - they are larger than most tumblers on the market today and I am still running mine that I purchased 6 years ago…The only thing I have replaced is the drive belt ($7.00) and I tumble wet (with pins) and dry in this unit….

https://stainlesstumblingmedia...mblers-rebel-17.html


^^^ I use this too and it is amazing.
Works substantially better than walnut or similar media.
My RCBS shaker unit hardly ever get used any more.
PS ... I replaced the belt too.
 
Posts: 23066 | Location: Houston, TX | Registered: June 11, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As sigarms posted, I have two of these for wet tumbling. You'll never look back, IMHO...

https://stainlesstumblingmedia...mblers-rebel-17.html

I do have a dry tumbler from Harbor Freight filled with walnut to get the Imperial wax off my .223 brass after they're lubed and sized.



"If you’re a leader, you lead the way. Not just on the easy ones; you take the tough ones too…” – MAJ Richard D. Winters (1918-2011), E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil... Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel." - Isaiah 5:20,24
 
Posts: 11066 | Location: NW Houston | Registered: April 04, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I do have a dry tumbler from Harbor Freight filled with walnut to get the Imperial wax off my .223 brass after they're lubed and sized.



Valid point, and I'd forgotten about that...I do the same with all my rifle brass. Wet tumbling is probably not the best for that application.
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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92fstech...I wet tumble ALL brass; even rifle. My process for rifle brass is once it's deprimed and wet tumbled, I lube and resize on my Rock Chucker and then trim, debur and chamfer on my Lee prep station. Once that process is done, that's when it gets tossed into the walnut medium to clean any excess lube/wax and to polish.



"If you’re a leader, you lead the way. Not just on the easy ones; you take the tough ones too…” – MAJ Richard D. Winters (1918-2011), E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil... Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel." - Isaiah 5:20,24
 
Posts: 11066 | Location: NW Houston | Registered: April 04, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yeah what I meant was that wet tumbling isn't necessarily the best for removing lube. So I'd still need a dry tumbler to do that part of the process.
 
Posts: 8927 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'll echo the opinions that wet tumbling is the way to go. I just got done processing a 5 gallon bucket of .223 brass (to be specific, 65# of it, guy weighed it for me) I got in a trade for a 10/22 I had, and it went from some dingy, nasty shite to some gorgeous looking stuff.

I use Hornady One Shot concentrate and some FA SS pins in a FART Lite. I'm cheap so I haven't purchased a separator (I just give a shake into a restaurant bus tray when necessary), but you should be able to use the same separators you may already have for dry tumbling.

Where I cheat, though, is I do 2 things to ensure great looking brass with minimal staining and/or corrosion (yes, I've had that happen):

1) I take the still wet brass and roll it around in a towel. This allows me to get as much water off as I can, so it can't cause trouble later.

2) I bake it in a small toaster oven at under 100F for about half an hour. I used to do about 150 but found it has a tendency to discolor the brass. At the lower temp I found it's not even warm enough to give me trouble pulling it out of the oven.

I haven't noticed the pins being better or worse than other methods I've used. In fact, I had my first stuck case in months last night. I was setting a die and forgot to lube (also One Shot - say what you will, but I like it) again after testing in the gun when I put it back in (judging from that case neck I also had the body set way too low as well). But then, I've never had a vibe tumbler, and my last cleaning setup was ultrasonic. This is also much less likely to exacerbate my migraines (I close it in my reloading room's (which is also my home office) closet and even hold work meetings in there and still concentrate - it's a very muffled rattle sound).

TL;DR - It's utterly fantastic for small batches. If I were doing massive batches like this last bit on the regular I might consider another option (or at least buy more of them) but you'll get your money's worth out of it.

quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
Yeah what I meant was that wet tumbling isn't necessarily the best for removing lube. So I'd still need a dry tumbler to do that part of the process.


I actually do a second wash/rinse/dry cycle with detergent to get lube off. It definitely helps to use a water based lube, but I've noticed significantly better results since I started doing that. For progressive loading of 223 I'm up the creek without a paddle though, but I'm okay with that.


"In order to understand recursion, you must first learn the principle of recursion."
 
Posts: 3360 | Location: Memphis, TN | Registered: August 23, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I recently changed to wet cleaning my brass from the old dry tumble.

I was pleased to discover the we method does a much better job of cleaning with dry media... no dust and quite a bit faster as well.

Midway sells a nice wet tumbler under the Frankfurt Armory brand. I bought the large size tumbler and a case dryer as well... The work very well and i'm very pleased with them.

FWIW

Chuck


quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
My 10 + year-old Frankford Arsenal tumbler died this weekend. It's had a good run, and I used and abused it, so I've considered just buying another one and carrying on where I left off. But I'm also tempted to try out wet tumbling, and since I'm about due for some new media as well, this would be a good time to make that jump if I'm going to do it. So I'm going through my regular cost/benefit process, and this is where I'm at:

Lead Exposure: We've all dumped the dry media out of the tumbler and got a big whif of that dust that poofs out. There's no way that can be healthy. I'm assuming a wet process mitigates this.

I clean brass in my uninsulated garage, year-round. In the winter, there are a couple of months where it gets well below freezing in there. I'm not sure if the motion of a tumbler will keep that from being a problem, or if I'm likely to have a giant ice cube or slush ball to deal with. Anybody else deal with this?

How much of a pain is separating steel media? Currently I use a "customized" collander to dump the media and brass into, shake it around to get rid of most of the media, then manually dump what's left in each case. That manual dump step plays into my inspection process, and I get to handle and look over each case, so I don't mind doing it, but dry corncob media falls right out...if wet steel pins stick or adhere and require more effort to remove, I'd like to know that up front.

How do you dry your brass?

Cost I think will be about the same over time, as I won't have to pay to replace disposable media (not a huge cost, but I've had to buy a new bag every couple of years).

Any other advice, or comments on things I maybe haven't considered?


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