Cleaning Shell cases.....Tumblers or ultrasonic cleaners ???

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by robbobsam, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. robbobsam

    robbobsam Well-Known Member

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    Hiya Guys,

    I am getting myself into reloading and am considering how to best clean my shell cases.

    Can you give me your opinion please.

    Ultrasonic cleaners or shell case tumblers ???

    Please give only your experiences and not hear say.
     
  2. TheHardWay

    TheHardWay Well-Known Member

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    Right now I am using a vibratory tumbler with corn cob media. Have been doing so for years. It works great...gets the cases nice and shiny in a few hours when using the liquid polishing compound added to the mix.

    Pros: Easy to use, fairly inexpensive to maintain (buying additional media)
    Cons: Doesn't clean the insides of the cases, media can get everywhere if you aren't careful.

    I am considering an ultrasonic cleaner, but want to hear from others about whether or not they are worth it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010

  3. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    I use an ultrasonic cleaner and use Citric acid as the cleaning chemical. It works very well for lower volume quantities of cases.

    I've never owned a vibratory or tumbler type of case cleaner, so I can't compare the two.

    I did my research and purchased once. Happy with the results to date. Been using the Ultrasonic for about 8 months now. It does clean the cases inside and out, completely satisfactorily, in my opinion.
     
  4. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    I do both, Plus bullet coating.
    IMO, vibratory tumblers provide as much as ever needed.

    Ultrasonic get's em to new condition. Really works good.
    But I'm not aware of any benefits to it.
    It's nowhere near as easy, and the wet brass still needs to be tumbled with a polish, to prevent tarnish inside & out..
     
  5. Longshot38

    Longshot38 Well-Known Member

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    I've used them all Vibratory, Ultra Sonic, and now Rotary tumblers with stainless media. Rotary with stainless is the way to go.
     
  6. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Just to be different:

    I clean my necks, inside & out, with 0000 steel wool and load the cases. It rarely seems necessary to clean the cases themselves. What are you guys doing to get your cases dirty?
     
  7. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    I've haven't been doing the ultrasonic cleaning for a long period of time yet, but I haven't experienced tarnished brass from my water and citric acid mixture yet. What cleaning chemicals do you add to your water when you ultrasonic clean them?

    I did a fair amount of research and one guy that had experimented with cleaning solution quite a bit like citric acid because it did a good job of cleaning and no neutralization other than a water wash was required following the citric acid bath.
     
  8. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

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    I've used a ~teaspoon of CarbonKiller with water for ~30 cases at a time.
    But I find the same result as with dunking after lead dip annealing. The cases have to be dried inside & out(not just blown out), then coated, or they'll tarnish within a week. Checked em with a borescope..
    Look with a magnifier.

    The carbon inside the case, and the thin coating of case lube, or polish on the outside, act to prevent tarnishing. Then we go & remove that for some reason...
    Well, put it back, or your brass will oxidize.
    Does it matter?
    Well, we're expending energy here to CLEAN our brass, not tarnish it.

    There is another issue that should be accounted for with necks so clean; bullet galling.
    Carbon works just fine to seperate the copper in your brass from your bullet jackets.
    I coat bullets anyway, and many lube necks, but neither is needed -unless you ultrasonically clean the necks.

    The fella that doesn't clean his brass at all is probably miles ahead of us.
     
  9. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    I pretty much agree. Especially with the ultrasonic-cleaned necks. Bullet friction/tension with the US cleaned case necks was much different. I noted this so much right off the bat while seating bullets that the first thing I did at the range was compare the US cleaned reloads (with the squeaky clean case necks) POIs to identical reloads with cases that were carbon-fouled (no US cleaned). You guessed it. There was a 1 1/2" to 2" difference in the POIs at 295 yds.

    As a consequence, on the cases that I've already US cleaned, I now lube the case necks with Imperial Resizing Wax and then remove as much of the Was as possible with dry Q-Tip ear cleaners prior to seating the bullets. This still leaves a light coating of the Imperial Case Lube in the case necks, and the resistance to bullet seating is pretty similar to my carbon-fouled cases. The POI and MV is now the same with these US-cleaned cases, as with the carbon-fouled ones.

    Good points that you've made. My experiences with US cleaning lead me to very similar conclusions. I never did anything to formally clean my cases for decades - such as vibratory or tumble cleaning them. Like you say, now that I've US cleaned some brass, it seems like not cleaning them served me very well - maybe even put me ahead in this game/hobby.
     
  10. ScottB

    ScottB Well-Known Member

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    I shoot mine.


    Carbon deposits...not so much dirt dirty though.........
    I'm currently in the ultrasonics camp, but I swing back and forth. I enjoyed SS media in a tumblers, but am concerned with case hardening. Maybe I need one of those really cool annealing machines?


    Scott
     
  11. djtjr

    djtjr Well-Known Member

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    I really like the stainless steel media and tumblers. Cleans great and even gets the primer pockets
     
  12. bassin93

    bassin93 Well-Known Member

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    Where is the best place to buy the stainless stuff. I use the large thumblers tumbler with ceramic media to clean my BPCR stuff but dosen't work good with bottle neck cartridges.
     
  13. Gene

    Gene Well-Known Member

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    I used to tumble cases, but stopped doing that years ago. Now I simply twist a hunk of 0000 steel wool around outside of necks, and clean inside of necks with a nylon brush dipped in denatured alcohol.

    The advantage of US cleaners supposedly is that they clean inside the case.
     
  14. ScottB

    ScottB Well-Known Member

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    Stainless Tumbling Media, reloading supplies, reload brass

    At least it's all in one place, years ago when this stuff first came around you had to go here and there(run-around-ish) to get everything you needed. I still don't use the LemiShine(can't find it locally).
    There is also a few videos on YTube that show it in use....


    Give it a try, judge for yourself.....
    Scott