Anyone using Sonic Brass Cleaners?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by The7mmSTW, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. The7mmSTW

    The7mmSTW Well-Known Member

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    Anyone prefer a sonic brass cleaner vs the standard tumbler type?

    what is the advantages and disadvantages of either system?

    if possible tell us which type and brand model you use.

    this is the last piece of my reloading needs

    -matt
     
  2. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    I have all 3 types. Vibratory with dry media, Heated Ultrasonic and now a Stainless tumbling media.

    If you want the best, that cleans to a awesome shine, in only 4 hrs, and gets brass looking like new inside and out including primer pockets, then go for the stainless tmbling media.

    Search it in the upper right hand corner of this page. There are some good threads about it.

    Jeff
     

  3. barnesuser28

    barnesuser28 Well-Known Member

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    I use the medium sized Lyman.

    The only problems i have is it doesnt make the cases shiny and the inside of the necks get so clean you need to put some motor mica or a graphite of some sort to get consistant neck tension and low es.

    First i deprime my cases by hand, then i toss them in the sonic cleaner that has 50% water and 50% vinegar, a drop of dish soap and 1 teaspoon of lemmy shine for about 4, 8 minute cycles (time depends on how many cases are being cleaned), then i rinse them in clean cold water to wash the vinegar off (if this step is skipped you will have pink cases), then i toss them in the tumbler overnight and take out in the morning and they look like new.

    I really like it because it gets the primer pockets really clean and i dont have to worry about carbon buildup inside the cases.

    There is a product called citranox that you dillute 1:100 in water and it wont make the cases pink if not rinsed off. I plan on buying some and trying it out. it is $45 on amazon for 1 gallon.
     
  4. barnesuser28

    barnesuser28 Well-Known Member

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    Jeff and i were typing at the same time. But i would agree that the stainless tumbling media would be the best and i wish that was what i bought originally.
     
  5. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    I went ultrasonic for an experiment, but abandoned it and I'm staying with vibratory.
    What I didn't like:
    #1 getting brass wet
    #2 losing fouling inside necks
    #3 it serves no actual purpose

    If I needed to enter a brass bling contest, then stainless media looks to be the best. But then I'd have to vibratory polish it anyway to keep it from tarnishing. And I'd have to re-foul inside necks for best seating.
    I like clean, but function must come first.
     
  6. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    Mike, what am I missing? I don't vibratory polish mine after the stainless media? I just looked and it all looks fine to me? But I dont store ammo long, I shoot too much.

    After 14 firings the insides of my 338 LM cases were really getting a thick build up. But I didn't realize there were advantages to a "fouled neck" ?? please explain. I get great consistant seating using Imperial neck graphite is that why I don't notice a problem with clean brass?

    I do live in a dry climate but drying cases is not an issue for me. They will dry in the sun on a simple rack I made from a board and finish nails. But I do wait a day to be sure. Or if I am annealing (which I do almost every firing) they are dried from the heat.

    The biggest plus I seen was the spotless primer pockets. It was a painstaking job with a brush and now they all look new after cleaning and I dont have to touch them. I feel a clean primer pocket is important for consistacy.

    Honestly, I value your opinion. I feel brass prep is key to accuracy. Tell me what I can do to improve.

    Oh, and believe me I am in no "Brass Bling Contest" Just felt I was getting sloppy leaving all that crud build up inside and it was starting to flake as the other cleaners had never touched it.

    Jeff
     
  7. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    I only have and only use a sonic cleaner. I have the one from Harbor Freight that looks just like the Hornady model. As best I can tell, they're made in the same factory to the same specs with a lower price tag.

    I use the Hornady cleaning solution. It goes a long ways. So, I see no need for home brews.

    I'm not going to argue which is best. But, I will say I am very pleased and it fully meets my needs.

    Clean primer pockets are nice. But, a quick twist from the uniformer resolves that regardless.

    Drying is only an issue if you're in a hurry. As I don't get to shoot every day, letting brass sit over night is usually not a problem.

    I only use it about every 3-5 firings. ...i.e., as-needed

    I have often pondered the effects of fouling in the case necks. I've tried ignoring it, using brushes, steel wool on a drill, and sonic cleaning. Unless it's excessive, I can't tell that it does much to my every day, mid-range accuracy. But, when I'm getting down to a serious set of brass, I sonic clean.

    I uses Redding dry neck lube to help alleviate runout when sizing. It may also help with bullet seating and neck tension. But, I can't say for sure.

    If you want to do a good job, do what I do. If you want to be great, listen to Jeff and Mike.

    -- richard
     
  8. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    I have my extremes, and probably shouldn't comment about others. I'm sure you'all are workin it all out.

    With my testing, I was looking for tarnish and to solve it. I had run into it just the same after quenching from annealing, so I expected it.
    A few days after ultrasonic cleaning I notice a green ring in some primer pockets, and with a borescope I find layer forming and green rings inside cases. This, mostly at corners where water latches hold.
    Now I've got a drying problem, right?
    High pressure air don't work in corners. Ambient drying is too slow to prevent corrosion. Heating accelerates corrosion.
    The easiest, and most practical way to DRY the cases out ended up being corn cob media.

    But now my cases are still squeaky clean. The brass surface is fully exposed to the elements. From here, my finger prints cause corrosion if nothing else.. No different than a blued barrel really.
    Now I need to cover the brass surface, to protect it, inside & out.
    The carbon layer inside of my 'dirty brass' was doing this just fine, and the easiest, and most practical way to COAT the cases ended up being corn cob media -with a bit of polish.

    Now I need to do something about bullet seating. I don't want to gall or cold weld bullet jackets, and I need the consistency in seating forces i've always had with a carbon layer.
    Yeah, I could go to using moly or graphite,, or I could leave the carbon in my necks alone.

    Now I wonder about 'carbon build-up'. Just what kind of a problem is it really?
    I pick & scratch around inside a bunch of cases, once in a while pulling a small flake, and with 50 well used 6br cases I couldn't assemble a gram of loose carbon. Seems to me the sizing cycle in firing would dislodge most, shatter it, & what happens from there matters about as much as that laying loose in the bottom of my bore. Maybe it would build up to more of an issue with magnum cartridges and/or surplus powders.
    I pick a lot more carbon from primer pockets. But this is not the same as carbon inside cases. Primer discharge, by design, is extremely dirty, and what remains in the pockets didn't get crushed, burn up, and blown mostly down the bore. It affects primer crush on seating.
    But a swipe with a pocket uniformer takes care of that issue.
    Then I toss it into corn cob media, with a bit of polish, and all is well taken care of.

    Well, not quite. Don't ever leave brass in corn cob media, with a bit of polish in it, -for a few days..
    Clean the brass, & directly separate it from the media.
    This will look good enough, load & shoot fine, and won't tarnish in the near term.

    I'm sure shiny brass brings in the ladies (to check their makeup), but I can't come up with any gain in it.
     
  9. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    Mikecr,

    Great thought process and write-up.

    I rinse my brass in distilled water after sonic cleaning.

    I have found no green residue, but may not have looked close enough.

    I have noticed some fingerprint tarnish at times. But, I think this is not present when I subsequently FL sized with Imperial Sizing Wax. Perhaps even after wiping the wax off the case it may leave a slight protective coating?

    thanks
    Richard
     
  10. Broz

    Broz Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the explanation.... I think..:)

    I have no proof that clean brass preforms better at all. But it does give me the warm fuzzy feeling I am doing a better job. Getting the primer pockets really clean was a pain in the wrist for me so I was glad to get rid of that job. Before I sought out a better cleaning method I used the cob media for years. Dumping the media from cases and picking it from flash holes did not read very high on my fun meter. Also some of the worst looking cases I have ever seen were some I stored after adding Lyman polish to my cob media. They turned dull and spotted something fierce. Some others I stored in an air tight ziploc bag were uglier than a sack full of hemroidal butt holes.

    Anyway, Thanks for the discussion. This is one of those things where you develope a method that works for you. That may involve many things and steps to arrive at your perfected finished product. Leave one out or change one thing and the results are not the same for all.

    Jeff
     
  11. Mirage33

    Mirage33 Member

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    Hi guys,
    Just a piece of advice on a chemistry point of view:
    If you use an acidic solution like vinegar/water/soap, rinse the cases immediately afterwards and then run them at least a 8-10 minutes cycle in a base solution (baking soda in water will do). After that, rinse and dry.
    This is important to stop the acid attack that will lead to copper-zinc separation in brass.
    If you want shiny brass after ultrasonic cleaning, just run them 1/2 hour in a tumbler with crushed walnuts and little bit of "shining solution".
    Hope that helps
     
  12. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    Hornady One-Shot does contain citric acid. The instructions say to rinse after. But, no mention of neutralizing with a base. That's probbly a good suggestion.

    -- richard
     
  13. blacknzr1

    blacknzr1 Well-Known Member

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    so i walk out of the hunting show with my new sonic cleaner yesterday. and a guy says to me... be careful with home brews, as they can weaken the brass and it can explode while firing....
    so has this guy got a point, or valid statment?
    im sure there would be a way to make the brass this weak. but i would guess such a brew wouldnt need a sonic cleaner as it would be so good by its self.
    if found a good product that is used to clean water stain off fruit before harvest.
    im using it at a stronger rate. and it does a decent job. we also use it to clean machinery at the stronger rate. iv never seen the redish stain after. i do rinse in warm dish water afterwards.
    the active ingrediant is lactic acid and phosphate. the product is called kiwi lustre.
     
  14. SamuraiTrapper

    SamuraiTrapper Member

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    A couple points to make: The Hornady Sonic cleaners are dual element heaters where the Harbor Frieght cheapy models are single element. Another thing to consider is that with the Hornady sonic cleaner, you can get the gun parts cleaning solution as well. Works great on semi auto pistol barrels and AR bolts. That said, I am running the old reliable tumbler w/ corn media. I will get an ultrasonic at some point, but as of right now, I have no reason to switch. Just my 2 cents.