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Tumbler Media

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So I'm finally thinking about getting a tumbler to clean my brass.  Crappyfreight has a tumbler on sale plus if you have 20% off makes it reasonable for 5lb version.

 

What Media do you all use? 

 

I've heard its much cheaper to get some sort of pet bedding over the media they sell related to reloading.

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Walnut media. If bought from a sandblasting supply you want #12, so pieces don't get stuck in the flash hole. Otherwise it is pretty cheap at pet stores as 12 lb bags of "lizard bedding." Tumble dirty brass in it straight. If very powder smoked, add a bit of mineral spirits to the media and let it mix through before adding the brass.

 

 

Then sift the cleaned brass out. 

 

If you want it to stay very bright for a long time, tumble it again in clean walnut pre-treated with" Nu-Finish" car wax stuff. Or corncob done the same way. You want to let it mix through and dry into the media well before adding the brass. Otherwise you will have globs dry inside. Do it right and your brass will look just like it came from the factory even if you had it on your shelf for a year before loading.

 

Those bodybuilder shake powder containers are handy for storing media.

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Lizard litter at big box pet supply or on line cheaper than the stuff sold by the reloader brands. Cut up a USED dry sheet into strips I fold em in half then cut into quarters. The purpose is to collect the dust and dirt that comes off the brass, You don't need fresh sheets as they don't work any better. But before that I add nu finish acrylic car polish to the media run the tumbler with out brass for 5/15 minutes to break up clumps caused by the polish. I generally add it to media after the last batch after removing the brass and then run my hand thru it to break up the clumps before the next run. I also de prime the brass before I tumble. Depending on how you are about what you want your brass looks like you can do it longer. I have had 3 of the horrible fright 5 pounders since they started to carry them, over the years. they are worth it for the price.

 

Since they vibrate. some will walk across the table bench etc.I solved that problem with one section of the floor mats that have holes in them will take a photo and post if I can tomorrow. Or you can place it in a plastic milk case and it will stop the movement.

 

If my brass is real bad after depriming, I run it thru a couple of cycles of my ultrasonic cleaner, heater on and the solution is water and simple green. Then when dry I do the tumbling but for a shorter time. There are any number of ways that people do the dry tumbling and what additives they use. The only wrong way to do it with brass is NEVER use an ammonia based brass cleaner since it attacks the zinc in the brass and can cause early splitting etc.

Edited by GRPJr
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Here my cheap media separator

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Got mine at the regional version of Wally World. you can use one or two and you can clamp the handles to keep it together. make sure you have a lot of holes and they are large

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When using one colender  you can move the media around with one hand. I use the nitrile gloves to avoid any lead dust or powder/primer residue.

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I was using an OXO salad spinner I got at a thrift store. It does OK, but the brass is too heavy for the spinning action to work. I may get one of those frankford arsenal ones that clips into a bucket eventually. Especially if I ever move up to stainless pins and water.

 

People know I reload, and I have friends who run estate sale businesses. I get given some pretty nasty brass and scrape a fair amount up from the mud in outdoor ranges. The pins would probably do a lot better job.

 

I have tried wet tumbling with steel saucers and a smaller rotary tumbler. Mostly I thought it was more work for less good results, but it can do a good job about scrubbing crusty gunk out of the inside of brass that vibratory tumbling would barely touch.

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going cheap is a waste of your money in the long run.

 

Buy a quality tumbler and separator from Dillon.

Use corn cob and polish

 

the best tools give the best results!!!!!

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I run a Big Red cement mixer full of crushed walnut hulls I got from the feed store. Works great...even on my 50BMG casings.

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I will be getting better equipment as my budget improves. Primarily that means making or buying commercial sized machinery that maximises my time by running larger batches. I'll do this as I get money and find bargains.

 

Guess what just failed though--> My DILLON tumbler, which is known to be a failure prone POS that the company reneges on their warranty over. Spending more is not always the best economic choice. Particularly when you don't have a lot at the time. I'll be putting a better motor in it than Dillon ever did. However, I am likely to be going a lot bigger than equipment built for reloading.

 

The tumblers I have do fine for now, as does the media. Actually the machine I want more is a mechanical brass sorter. I have plans to build one using a lathe I've got access to. That will make a bigger difference in my brass processing time and effort than anything else.

 

 

Jim, elitism requires a person to pretend that everyone else has the same options you do and chose badly. You've got a ~25 year lead on me in buying power. If I bought a complete dillon setup, I couldn't shoot at all for a few years since I'd have to sell my guns to pay for it. What I have works, and has been saving me a lot of money present tense. As in it has already paid for itself several times over.

 

I opt for quality, but that isn't always a matter of just choosing the color blue. For instance, I have actually found my Lee dies work a lot better than my RCBS ones with less hassle, and no tendency to drop or bend decapping pins. Buy smart, and evaluate each product on its own merits. Over a lifetime that pays off a lot better than paying more and feeling smug.

Edited by GunFun
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I have a Dillon CV-500 and their separator; it works fine but takes for fucking ever (I use walnut shells).  Recently bought a Thumler's rotary on sale at Cabela's but I haven't used it yet.  Nearly everybody I have talked to that uses a rotary with stainless pins, talks about having gotten rid of their vibratory tumbler.

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Those big thumbler vibratory tumblers are built like tanks. They have a track record of going over 30 years and running. If a person wanted to throw money at a vibratory tumbler that is good for life, these are the obvious choice. The weight also keeps the noise down.They are steel based with beefy rubber feet, with oversized motors on ball bearings, so they aren't working very hard. Their plastic is thick and soft. So they just don't wear out. I've been keeping an eye out for bargains on one, and missed a few when money was tight.

 

Other than the shoddy proprietary motor in my dillon the plastics are obviously quality and softer which helps keep the din down, as compared to most of the cheaper models, i.e. Lyman, or the frankford arsenal ones you see for ~$40. The broken motor was even more effective at noise reduction.

 

 

My brother has a tiny thumbler rotary probably made in the mid 80s. It is not made as well as their present stuff, but it does work. The drum is worn enough that the lid will pop off or leak if you put much weight in it.

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Dillon doesnt warranty tumblers, but you CAN replace motors, I have done several.

 

They have however replace two RL550s we wore out for free.

My original RL1050 purchased with my 1984 tax return is STILL going strong has to be close to a million rounds now.

 

Over the years of shooting I have seen many of my friends dump other brands of equipment and get Dillon stuff, wiishing they had gone with Dillon to begin with.

I am no elitist !!  but will scrimp and save to get quality stuff.

 and if the cost of a Dillon loader is more money than you spend in YEARS of shooting.......you dont hardly shoot at all 

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Midway has the Thumbler's Model B on sale for $174.43 now. Product #: 426185 Thumler's #: 140HS UPC #: 051442100179

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I'm still using the Thumbler's rotary, and the RCBS "rock crusher" loader my Dad used, so they're... "old." I've replaced the belt on the tumbler 3 or 4 times, that's all the service it's needed.

 

I wonder sometimes if I should be collecting rocks instead of brass?  ;)

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If I could afford the spendy stuff I would.  But most of it would cost more then I've paid for any of my vehicles.  I was just curios on some peoples takes and where to get decent media without a huge price premium.  Seen some media that looked the exact same as pet bedding for way too much for much less.

 

I'm running a lee single stage press 4 hole turret and its just fine for me now. maybe one day when I need to step up or really get into reloading I'll look at the time savers.  I'm no competition shooter so if I can make a couple thousand rounds a year and shoot them I'm good.  Based on the primers, powder, and bullets I'm using or looking at its about $138/thousand right now.  better then the 225/1000 of loaded ammo that I can find thats brass cased, and not reman.

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I've started using the fine ground walnut lizard bedding stuff.  Add about 1/2 tablespoon 'nu finish' & let run for 1/2 hour before adding brass. Another tip to keep dust down is to cut a used dryer-sheet into strips or squares & add to mix. Seems to work pretty good.

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I've found paper towel does the same as dryer sheets and are cheaper & in my shop anyway.

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Midway has the Thumbler's Model B on sale for $174.43 now. Product #: 426185 Thumler's #: 140HS UPC #: 051442100179

 

That's a pretty good deal; the smaller A-R12 that I bought recently usually goes for about that much.  Of course, I got it for about $137 on clearance.  cool.png

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I've started using the fine ground walnut lizard bedding stuff.  Add about 1/2 tablespoon 'nu finish' & let run for 1/2 hour before adding brass. Another tip to keep dust down is to cut a used dryer-sheet into strips or squares & add to mix. Seems to work pretty good.

A bit of mineral spirits works too, and shines the brass up nice.

 

Ventilate to do this. You should anyhow, because cleaning fired brass puts lead in the air.

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I do that for the first stage if brass is very ugly, but not combined with the NuFinish. Old polish media becomes new clean media.

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I made sifter from 2 buckets one 2 gal and on 5 gallon. I drilled a ton of 1/4 holes in the bottom of the 2 gallon bucket. Drop the 2 gallon inside the 5 gal. Pour the brass in the 2 gallon bucket. With such big holes it separates quickly and the 5 gallon contains all the mess.

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Excellent topic and thank you.  Which specific brass tumbler would one recommend that works, will last ... AND IS DEAD QUIET?  It can be slow.  Primarily .30 Carbine and perhaps later, 9mm.  I hate noise.

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