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Posted: 7/10/2008 3:05:57 AM EDT
Haven't reloaded, but getting there. I have a lot of old military brass and pulled 50 BMG bullets that I would like to clean up that have that deep weathered brown color that a day in the vibratory cleaner won't cut through.

Is there any additive to add to the media to help or some solution to presoak?

Link Posted: 7/10/2008 3:46:27 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 4:43:23 AM EDT
Ok I am calling you on this. Does stuff really work? The hive mind demands before and after pictures.
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 5:28:21 AM EDT
Try some vinegar. Wash the cases in apple cider vinegar stir every once in a while. This also loosens dead powder in the shell. Wash all the casings in cool water, pour into a towel, and do the shimmy with them......That is get the casings dry as you can and then into the tumbler. (Ty to Hotdog on the RLB for this one)

The vinegar is reusable for years, but don't put it on your salad after using it.

Then there is the "chuck it" method. Use the shell holders that you can chuck in a drill (like the Lee ones for trimming). Use a polishing cloth like Flitz. There are other things you can use such as....scotch pad, 0000 steel wool, Kroil soaked rag and some others I may have missed.

I have personally have used the vinegar method.
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 5:34:37 AM EDT
Personally if after a day of tumbling I wouldn't worry about the finish. The brass surface should be squeeky clean, that's the main point of tumbling so it doesn't scratch the dies and it aids in identifying defects in the brass
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 5:50:20 AM EDT
Have straited a new regimen, using stainless steel wire cut short in a Thumblers tumbler, hot water and Ivory liquid dishwashing soap. Guy calls himself Hummer turned me on to this. Brass comes out looking brand new, inside of case and primer pockets all clean. It is more labor intensive, but the results are great. Can run 300 .223's overnight, separate and dry next morning. I just need a bigger tumbler.
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 6:20:08 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 8:40:14 AM EDT
Never had any luck with bullets in a vibratory machine. Seems the bullets stay in the bottom and never really get shined. I think a rotary tumbler with ceramic media would work and a tumbler with corn cob media might too?
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 8:47:30 AM EDT
I second vinegar.
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 8:53:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Lowco:
Midway Iosso

wish i could post pics for ya,....but it does work
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 10:09:49 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 11:42:56 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/20/2008 12:36:38 PM EDT by RatShooter]

Vinegar does remove some tarnish, however the longer the cases are soaked, the more frosted their appearance, which is a step in the wrong direction if shine is the goal.

That may be true but tumbling removes that frosty look. Being something of a range chicken and buying once fired that's sometimes pretty dirty, I use a vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and and dawn dishwasher solution after depriming. The brass is plenty clean for swaging resizing and so on. After all brass process is done I tumble it and it comes out very nice.

ETA 7/20: So in order to do some cases, I picked the ingredients mentioned above, I do about 1k per batch with this snake oil. Here's the cost.
1 gal white vinegar $1.52
Lemon juice $2.32 for 32 oz bottle, 2 batches using half bottle
Dawn $1.67, good for about 4 batches using 1/4-1/3 cup (really nasty I use more)
Salt .60, several batches using 1/4 cup
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 12:28:45 PM EDT
Try a soak in Lemishine dissolved in hot water. A tablespoon in a quart is safe overnight.

It will eat the tarnish, leaving behind a copper bloom. This can be polished in walnut.
Link Posted: 7/10/2008 6:17:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Worriedman:
Have straited a new regimen, using stainless steel wire cut short in a Thumblers tumbler, hot water and Ivory liquid dishwashing soap. Guy calls himself Hummer turned me on to this. Brass comes out looking brand new, inside of case and primer pockets all clean. It is more labor intensive, but the results are great. Can run 300 .223's overnight, separate and dry next morning. I just need a bigger tumbler.

What is the source of the stainless steel wire?
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 3:10:01 AM EDT
Thanks guys.

I'll do some experimenting. I googled Lemishine, sound like everybody loves it for dishes. Bullets..we'll see. I have vinegar and stainless wire, but I would like to hear more specifics on diameter and length? If only I could find my rotary tumbler!
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 3:28:14 AM EDT
I cut the vinegar 50/50 with water. A 30 minute soak, rinse and into the tumbler. I've been using the same gallon for a few years now. Of course it only gets used when I acquire very dirty or tarnished brass. Regular cleanings between loadings are just tumbled.
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 3:36:25 AM EDT
I don't have a tumbler yet so I too have been reading and experimenting on cleaning some cases.

Most metals oxidize when exposed to air (OXYGEN). A common mistake is over-use and flood metal surfaces with polishes believing that they are better protecting the surface. "The more polish, the more protection" which is incorrect. More polish creates a smudging problem since oils in your fingerprint oils "dissolve" the solvency of the metal polish. So just a small amount will do.

Chemically you concider whether to use an Acid or a Base. (high school flashback)
there are commercially available products as mentioned here before (brasso etc). Some products have very very fine grit to them which "polish" by abrasively removing the layer of tarnish. This over time could deteriorate the case life, weaken the brass. if you have to scrub hard you are losing metal.

Some products contain a chemical base to help dissolve the oxidized metal salts. These products work by dissolving the salts faster than they dissolve the non-oxidized metal - but they will dissolve metal eventually. so follow the directions for time! the last thing you want is a weakend case chambered in your favorite rifle 4 against your cheek!

Naval Jelly can work to. It is a mild acid. I tried it it worked well. It doesnot make it look like a gold brick however it did clean it well.

A capful of naval jelly, a spoonful of dishwashing liquid and hot water in a cleaned pickle jar. loaded (no pun intended) with about 20 cases (remeber we are experimenting) and let it mix and shake it a few times. after about 10~15 minutes it's clean. Just let it dry completely.

remeber these are chemicals, wash your cases and you should wear gloves.

my .02 cents
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 7:51:39 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/11/2008 8:00:34 AM EDT by GySgtD]
Mainly for experimental purposes, I recently polished a box of old .223 cases by using my Dremel tool and one of the scotch-brite looking polishing attachments as commonly sold at Wal-Mart.

It makes very quick work of the tarnish, as well as removing scratches. The end result has a bright, yet matte finish, which looks really nice.

It takes perhaps 20 seconds to do one case, even if it is badly tarnished. The polishing wheels don't last too long, however.

ETA> I should note that this method works great for already loaded ammo, unlike putting them in a tumbler. However, all case lube should be removed prior to polishing. The buffing wheel will simply smear the lube, leaving the case polished, yet dark and ugly.
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 8:35:24 AM EDT
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 4:07:16 PM EDT
Doesnt the vinegar weaken the cases?
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 6:12:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By zack-s:
Doesnt the vinegar weaken the cases?

No, you're thinking of ammonia compounds. Brasso for example.
That's why if you use dishwashing liquid to check the ingredients.
I mean it's a relative thing. It takes a fairly high concentration over a period of time to weaken the brass. It doesn't just rot.
None is even better in this case.
Link Posted: 7/11/2008 10:46:41 PM EDT
Birchwood Casey has a liquid cleaner that will remove the dark tarnish from cases,, or you can use something like a sink/bathroom cleaner if it has phosphoric acid in it,, just dilute it.
I've used cleaner called San-O-Vac that has phosporic acid in and it works fast,, the darker it is,, the pinker it is.. Tumbles off fairly fast.
I used 1 or 2 tablespoons of it in a quart of water.
Link Posted: 7/19/2008 6:54:01 PM EDT
Vinegar + tumbler = clean brass than corn cob and brasso to bring it to a luster
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