Wet Tumbling

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Griff
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Wet Tumbling

Post by Griff »

The week before Thanksgiving I bought one of the Frankford Arsenal's wet tumblers. I got mine from Midway as I also need a couple of other things sizing dies & lube for the lubri-sizer. I tend to avoid Amazon, although reports were that it was just as cheap and with the free shipping, a real savings.

Anyway, one of my complaints about loading on a progressive press has been the lack of primer pocket cleaning. I know that I could do it as a separate step prior to sizing, but... knowing out primers and then dry tumbling still didn't get the primer pockets very clean. Others have claimed that wet tumbling with stainless steel pins got the primer pocket amazingly clean. Posting pictures of pristine, "like-new" looking brass. Being somewhat skeptical... I finally decided to try, and if I wasted a little money in the process, okay, lessons are never cheap.

Anyway, everything arrived (except the Seaco sizer die and top punch), so I unboxed and tumbled my .32-40, both smokeless, & BP loads, some .30-30 & .45 Colt round.

.32-40 & .30-30 brass
GOPR2439.JPG
.30-30 New Federal once-fired brass
G0092441.JPG
Used .32-40 brass (R-P)
G0102443.JPG
New Winchester .32-40 once-fired brass
G0112445.JPG
Closeup of .32-40 pockets. (sorry for dark photo, no flash)
GOPR2446 (2).JPG
This is just with a little Dawn dishwashing soap. Absolutely no other contact, no pocket reaming or brushing, just the wash. It recommended for truly bright brass to use Lemi-Shine or other polishing compound. I know that I can use a polishing compound in my dry vibratory cleaners and get shiney brass, but this keeps me from having to deal with the dusty dry media. At a supposed lower lead exposure risk.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by CowboyTutt »

I still have a dry tumbler myself and it works pretty well, but I would also like to upgrade to a wet tumbler. I've seen 1st hand with some nasty corroded brass that I sent to my best friend to be cleaned an annealed after trying to clean it with my dry medium and excellent additive. His wet tumbler made them look like new, no comparison. I would like to upgrade but will have to wait for now. -Tutt
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Rockrat »

When I wet tumble, I use lemi-shine, dawn, and auto liquid car wash/wax. The car stuff leaves a faint wax coating on the brass and the shine doesn't degrade much.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Rimfire McNutjob »

How does wet tumbling compare to the heated ultrasonics? Same clean for lower cost? Even cleaner perhaps?
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Malamute »

Ive messed with it a little bit with a Harbor Freight rock tumbler, I think mine is the dual drum. I was inspired by this discussion https://pistol-forum.com/showthread.php ... ns-results

Most of the guys are wet tumbling without the pins, they seem to be unnecessary for the most part and annoying to remove. Lemi shine is a dishwasher additive, its basically powdered citric acid, a small jar at wal mart is under $5 I believe. My memory says they were using a 1/2 teapoon per gallon or so of water, use too much and it can start to discolor the brass. One or more guys were using a small concrete mixer to clean brass, doing a 5 gallon bucket of brass at a time (trivia point, theres about 6000 9mm brass in a 5 gallon bucket). Some are using window screens to dry the brass, some are using food dehydrators (dedicated to brass to eliminate possible lead contamination). I just used a folded towel on the counter for the small amount I did at a time, tipping them so theyd drain, the fold giving the incline.

The final rinse with the Armor=all car liquid cleaner/wax seems popular with some, they say it reduced expander squeak and helps size smoother. I havent tried it yet but have some.

I did some 223 brass that had been in a basement flood and left wet for several years forgotten in a plastic bag. There was some serious corrosion present, they cleaned up pretty well, better than dry tumbling. i didnt try to get the spotless, just seeing how they did with minimal attention. Some I did just in a small bucket with the lemi shine and shook it around now and then over a couple hours. That brass cleaned up fairly well also. Actually, Im not positive that may have been the corroded 223 brass.

Ill never dry tumble again. Theres no point to me since the wet works so much better at cleaning and there isnt the potential lead dust from handling them.

Results of the half fast attempt to clean the corroded 223 brass, I think they would have been even better with a little more time.
Cleaned shells.jpg
Lemi shine.jpg
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Ysabel Kid »

Rockrat wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 5:21 pm When I wet tumble, I use lemi-shine, dawn, and auto liquid car wash/wax. The car stuff leaves a faint wax coating on the brass and the shine doesn't degrade much.
What ratio?
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Bronco »

I tried the sonic cleaner method, could only do small batches. Knock out the primers, add steel pins, fill water just until cases are covered, a little simple green ( what I have) 1/4 cup or so, seal up and turn on, leave for about 45 minutes. Everything looks new including the primer pockets.

Machine is a Thumbler Tumbler Model B. Can do some pretty large batches, like maybe 200 308 cases maybe a little more. I have a lot of cases so I wait until I have a big quantity before I start to clean them.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by AJMD429 »

Bronco wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 9:45 pmMachine is a Thumbler Tumbler Model B. Can do some pretty large batches, like maybe 200 308 cases maybe a little more. I have a lot of cases so I wait until I have a big quantity before I start to clean them.
Do you ‘wet’ tumble in a Thumler Tumbler?
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Griff »

Rimfire McNutjob wrote: Wed Nov 30, 2022 6:14 pmHow does wet tumbling compare to the heated ultrasonics? Same clean for lower cost? Even cleaner perhaps?
About the same. But without the chemicals. And I can do much bigger batches.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Bill in Oregon »

I did the vibratory route with the walnut media, but switched to a Thumlers with stainless steel pins some time ago and while it is a bit of a pain to separate the brass from the pins, the results are uniformly excellent. I, too, would like to hear Rockrat's formula. I like the idea of the car wax.
By the way, this is the best $9 I have spent since going to the Thumlers wet system with pins. Works great.
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1019428744?pid=406549
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by marlinman93 »

I've had a Lortone wet tumbler for a long time, and I use ceramic media in mine. I found some tubular tiny ceramic beads on Ebay, and it cleans inside the primer pockets great! I just squirt some cheap dish soap in with my water, and in a short time my cases come out clean and shiny.
A few weeks ago a friend told me that Midway was having a big closeout sale on National Metallic wet tumblers that were large enough to hold 1,000 .223 cases! Normally $130 for $50, so I bought a 2nd wet tumbler that allows me more capacity, plus if I have two different cases to clean I can run both of them.
The big advantage (beyond size) to the National is the drum has a shape design that does a better job than my Lortone to turn and mix the brass and media up. So it takes less tumbling time to get the same result. The negative is the lid once tightened down is a little more effort to break loose vs. the Lortone that's a single wingnut. But I really love the timer on the National, so I don't forget to turn it off like I have on my Lortone.

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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Bronco »

AJMD429 » Wed Nov 30, 2022 10:21 pm

Bronco wrote: ↑Wed Nov 30, 2022 9:45 pm
Machine is a Thumbler Tumbler Model B. Can do some pretty large batches, like maybe 200 308 cases maybe a little more. I have a lot of cases so I wait until I have a big quantity before I start to clean them.

Do you ‘wet’ tumble in a Thumler Tumbler?

Yes, filled with water just covering the cases in the tumbler !
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Rockrat »

Maybe 1/2 teaspoon of lemi-shine(I have read a 9mm case is plenty--don't want too much as it might start pulling zinc out of the alloy), 1/2 tablespoon of Dawn, and same of the car wash/wax in a gallon jug of water. I really just eyeball it, probably closer to a tablespoon of the car wash/wax. I tumble for about 45 min or so.

I don't use pins anymore, they are a pain and I am afraid I might get one stuck in a finger , like a needle. Heard you can get stainless pieces that will work and don't have the needle like quality of the pins and are easier to separate from the brass, but regular tumbling works pretty well. I guess if you wanted to have sparkling clean primer pockets and the same inside the case, the pieces should work well.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by marlinman93 »

Rockrat wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 12:05 pm Maybe 1/2 teaspoon of lemi-shine(I have read a 9mm case is plenty--don't want too much as it might start pulling zinc out of the alloy), 1/2 tablespoon of Dawn, and same of the car wash/wax in a gallon jug of water. I really just eyeball it, probably closer to a tablespoon of the car wash/wax. I tumble for about 45 min or so.

I don't use pins anymore, they are a pain and I am afraid I might get one stuck in a finger , like a needle. Heard you can get stainless pieces that will work and don't have the needle like quality of the pins and are easier to separate from the brass, but regular tumbling works pretty well. I guess if you wanted to have sparkling clean primer pockets and the same inside the case, the pieces should work well.
My friends who use SS pins tell me they get stuck inside cases, especially in primer flash holes on occasion. The SS pins are rounded ends, so no chance of sticking your finger though.
I love my ceramic pins as they're tiny, but large enough not to fit a flash hole. I use a rotary media separator that fits a 5 gallon bucket. Dump the media and cases in it, and then just crank the handle until all the media drops in the bucket. Very fast, and never any media left inside cases.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Griff »

marlinman93 wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 3:27 pm
Rockrat wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 12:05 pmMaybe 1/2 teaspoon of lemi-shine(I have read a 9mm case is plenty--don't want too much as it might start pulling zinc out of the alloy), 1/2 tablespoon of Dawn, and same of the car wash/wax in a gallon jug of water. I really just eyeball it, probably closer to a tablespoon of the car wash/wax. I tumble for about 45 min or so.
I don't use pins anymore, they are a pain and I am afraid I might get one stuck in a finger , like a needle. Heard you can get stainless pieces that will work and don't have the needle like quality of the pins and are easier to separate from the brass, but regular tumbling works pretty well. I guess if you wanted to have sparkling clean primer pockets and the same inside the case, the pieces should work well.
My friends who use SS pins tell me they get stuck inside cases, especially in primer flash holes on occasion. The SS pins are rounded ends, so no chance of sticking your finger though.
I love my ceramic pins as they're tiny, but large enough not to fit a flash hole. I use a rotary media separator that fits a 5 gallon bucket. Dump the media and cases in it, and then just crank the handle until all the media drops in the bucket. Very fast, and never any media left inside cases.
My rotary separator has about a 3 gallon bucket, same as I used for dry media, and that's what I used this last go round. Pins dropped out none left in cases. The SS pins that came with the tumbler are about ½ the diameter of a flash hole or less. Rounded ended, but could still stick in you finger. I've sifted thru them the first time to get all my cases out of the tumbler. The second time I wet tumbled, I just dumped the lot brass, water & pins in the separator and easy-peasy. A couple of spins of the separator and brass in the cage, pins in the bucket.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Catshooter »

marlinman93 wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 3:27 pm
My friends who use SS pins tell me they get stuck inside cases, especially in primer flash holes on occasion. The SS pins are rounded ends, so no chance of sticking your finger though.
I love my ceramic pins as they're tiny, but large enough not to fit a flash hole. I use a rotary media separator that fits a 5 gallon bucket. Dump the media and cases in it, and then just crank the handle until all the media drops in the bucket. Very fast, and never any media left inside cases.
[/quote]

The pins they are using are not correct for the application if they get stuck in a flash hole. The pins should be sized so that they can't get stuck, can't.
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by marlinman93 »

Catshooter wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 12:13 am
marlinman93 wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 3:27 pm
My friends who use SS pins tell me they get stuck inside cases, especially in primer flash holes on occasion. The SS pins are rounded ends, so no chance of sticking your finger though.
I love my ceramic pins as they're tiny, but large enough not to fit a flash hole. I use a rotary media separator that fits a 5 gallon bucket. Dump the media and cases in it, and then just crank the handle until all the media drops in the bucket. Very fast, and never any media left inside cases.
The pins they are using are not correct for the application if they get stuck in a flash hole. The pins should be sized so that they can't get stuck, can't.
[/quote]

Have no idea where they got their pins except they came from the same source they bought their wet tumblers. I would think the sellers would sell the right pins, but maybe I'm too optimistic about expecting that?
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Re: Wet Tumbling

Post by Bill in Oregon »

The SS pins I use very occasionally get two stuck in a flash hole. No big deal. I bought mine from Buffalo Arms seven years ago or so.
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