Case Prep Questions

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by guns_and_labs, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. guns_and_labs

    guns_and_labs Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    I've decided to actually pay attention to my reloading, and I'm realizing that I don't know the answers to a lot of questions. I don't have a handy reloading mentor, so I thought I'd throw out my current pondering to the forum helpdesk.

    My first set of stupid questions are in the category of cleaning the cases. My proposed process [with questions that occur to me along the way] is:

    Scrub the necks with a case brush that's been sprayed with Prolix. [Question: should I be using Prolix, or leaving it dry? And what about getting the powder residue from the inside?]

    Throw 100 cases at a time into the vibratory cleaner. [Question: how much cleaning medium do I put in? I think I'm putting in too much.]

    Decap the primer out.

    Clean the primer pocket, inside and out, just lightly to clean, not to resize.

    Trim the case to SAAMI length.

    Deburr and chamfer the case mouth lightly.

    Dip into Imperial sizing media or rub slightly with the wax.

    Resize, full length.

    Wipe off with an alcohol-impregnated cloth.

    Tumble again quickly to make sure lube is off. [Question: can I use the same medium? I've been using corn cob for everything, but some seem to like walnut for a final finish]

    Check weight and neck thickness, discard those out of spec. [Question: how much variation is too much?]
  2. loaders_loft

    loaders_loft Well-Known Member

    Feb 11, 2008
    my tumbler works best when its pretty full. I use walnut because its more aggressive and cheap in the pet store bird section. I squirt a little media additive in once in awhile to re-charge the media. Also, I use cut up dryer sheets in the tumbler to prevent residue buildup.

    After tumbling, then FL or partial FL resize, which will also knock out the primer. I use one-shot, and don't tumble again afterwards. I just lay out the cases on a shop towel and wipe them off about 10 at a time just before prep.

    Cases stretch during re-resizing, so after sizing, then measure and determine if trimming is required (if trimming, then you may want to trim all your brass at once). While measuring, I inspect each case for defects such as neck splits (reloading manuals show the various defects).

    After trimming, do the prep: neck brush, flash hole debur (once only), primer pocket uniforming (once) primer pocket brush, ID/OD chamfering, and steel wool polish the mouth. See the steel wool spinner from Varmint Al - it will prevent scraping copper from your bullets during seating.

    As far as weight sorting, I'm curious to see what others advise here. To me, it doesn't make sense to weight sort unless the cases are brand new brass. The trimming and prep processes will remove variable amounts of brass which can affect weight (not case capacity, which is the real variable).

    Certainly this is just "my way" and not necessarily the "best way". I cut some corners and go a little extra on others.

    Everyone has their own way and by only sharing can we learn a few precious tidbits from the next guy...

  3. johnnyk

    johnnyk Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2001
    I keep my tumbler just under half-full. I usually throw in no more than 100 cases of any size (.300WM on down) at one time. If I'm doing pistol, I may go 150, just depends on how many I need.
    I get the lizard bedding from PETCO. Cheaper than going through the shooting supply folks. You can buy tumbling media from a company up North relatively cheap, again cheaper than the shooting supply folks, but you have to buy about 50lbs of it at one time. That's more than I think I will ever use. I forget the name of the place but it can be found by doing a Google search for walnut media.
    I add the Lyman brass polish for untreated media every so often.
    I do all the case prep before tumbling. That is resizing, trimming, deburring, primer pocket cleaning and then tumble overnight, usually. I make sure the media is out of the inside of the cases and flash holes but using a brush that fits inside the case and a depriming rod from an old resizing die to clear flash holes.
    These procedures work well for me. JohnnyK.
  4. loaders_loft

    loaders_loft Well-Known Member

    Feb 11, 2008
    The reason I tumble before resizing is because I don't want any carbon residue transferring to my dies - it can scratch up the dies. I don't tumble afterwards because I don't enjoy digging media out of flash holes and primer pockets...