Re: Brass Cleaning Using Stainless Tumbling Media System-Review
I've been using the STM method for about 18 months and have been very pleased with the process. I've noticed that there seem to be little downside listed here in the forum and thought I would pass along my observations:
* The brass can be to clean! I realize that this sounds like BS but when loading pistol brass on my Dillon 550, I found that the sized brass would stick to the powder through die in the second station. I played with this for quite a while and found that with just the oils in my fingers applied to the wall of the powder through die, the brass would not stick for one or two rounds. I tried a very minimal application of Imperal Sizing Die Wax to the powder through die and found that I could go five or six rounds before the sticking occurred. I finally sent a note to Dillon explaining the problem and they indicated that I was likely using an ultrasonic or cleaning with STM. Apparently the leftover carbon that remains from the tumbling in corncob or walnut media in a vibratory tumbler acts as a lubricant. Who da thunk you could get the brass overly clean! I finally polished the powder through die with some very fine emery cloth and Scotch-Brite pad. The sticking has been greatly reduced. The problem is worse with .45 ACP (more surface) so I often spray the brass with some Hornady One Shot case lube which makes the press run smoother than a babies bottom. Rifle brass is not an issue for me as I use my single stage press with a touch of Imperial Sizing Die Wax to the neck/shoulder area.
* The STM process takes longer and is a bit more putzy. The dry media in a tumbler is less work, but with only fair results. If you can live with the inside of your brass and primer pocket being less than clean, then it is the way to go. I'm just detailed enough to want pristine brass and am willing to go through the extra detail to have it my way. It's not that much extra messin around once you have done it a few dozen times, and the results speak for themselves.
* Drying time can be a pain. The old dry media and tumbler allowed you to use the brass immediately. Not so with the STM process. I learned the hard way that you need to give the brass a few days of drying time before use. I didn't allow adequate drying time (only 24 hours) with some 9mm brass and killed about 20% of the primers from moisture remaining in the flash holes. Since that episode I place the brass in a towel and shake the crap out of it to minimize moisture in the flash hole. I then give it a minimum of 48 hours of dry time (rotating it once or twice per day) prior to loading. About three weeks ago I purchased an inexpensive WalMart food dehydrator. I looked at one from Harbor Freight, but it didn't have a fan. This unit has a fan and the temps remain well below the point where annealing of the brass can take place. Now my cleaned brass is dry and ready to load in a couple of hours. Yep, it's one more piece of equipment to purchase, and one more piece of the process that you don't need to do with tumbling in dry media.
I offer the above, not to be critical of the STM process, but rather to point out my own observations with the product. I am pleased enough with the STM results that I gave my Lyman Pro tumbler to a buddy that was just getting started in reloading, and don't miss the red rouge discoloration on my hands from the old process at all. I have likely processed over 30K pieces of brass with the STM process and feel that it is far superior to the tumbler/dry media or ultrasonic process. Just my $0.02 and YMMV.