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Stainless Steel Media and tumbling, idea, help, thoughts....


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Hey B.E, its been a few since I last posted. I do ALOT of reloading and selling. Brass is where most of my sales come in but, this isnt the place for all that info.

I typically get 10,000-50,000 cases per trip to my local contact and have had it with regular vibrating and walnut tumbling. The brass I get is from an outside range, its filthy and it only takes my media 10 batches or so be be totally contaminated dirty as heck. Once this happens, the brass that I tumble is very dull and almost looks like it needs to be tumbled longer. I know this isnt the case as I typically run the brass in a Dillon tumbler and run it for 6-8 hours. Since I have 2 tumblers going at the same time, I can compare the two batches (they both come out the same. I use a cap full of Cabelas brass shine/cleaner, a Bounce dryer sheet, and a few caps full of Turtle wax. This does nothing to the brass... Most people that do this swear that the brass is ridiculously shiny... not mine.

So with that said, I started looking into wet tumbling and reading up on it. Once I saw how much brass the standard Thumbler did, I realized that it wasnt going to work out as it would take WAY to long to tumble the amount of brass I receive on a regular basis. I read the thread and idea about the gentleman who used the two chlorine bucket system and it seemed smart! I thought I was going to go that exact route and if it was easy enough, I would build multiple machines and sell them at local gun shows. After exhausting all my heating and air conditioning contacts (figured I could get motors for free). EVERYONE of my contacts just threw out at least 5-10 motors each... Grrr, I was about two weeks late on my idea.

So, that took me to looking for a motor to construct one homemade SS media tumbler capable of doing large amounts of brass at one time.

After researching the idea a lot more and seeing that between materials and time, I would have around 70 bucks or so into the project (can be done a lot cheaper if you find a "deal" on parts) I got impatient and started thinking more about it.

Looked at what Harbor Freight had in store and found this....

post-38536-0-93604500-1358379616_thumb.j

With a 25% off coupon and a nice guy in the store, I got it for 100.00 out the door!

I am not sure if this is going to work but, I do not see why it wouldn't.

Since I own my own custom body shop, I am going to spray in Gorilla Rubber lining and I should have a HUGE SS Media tumbler capable of doing a few 5 gallon buckets at a time.

Now, here is where I am getting worried. How much media do I need? Where do I buy it at? What is the "formula" of water, soap, brass, Lemmon Shine, and SS Media?

I would prefer to buy the SS pins locally from a Menards or Home Depo but, I have no clue if they sell anything like that. Ideas thoughts?

I also have an old dryer that is at my shop.... I am planning on throwing all the tumbled media into a mesh bag and drying it like that for 30-40 mins? Thoughts on this idea?

Anything else I should think about when doing this?

Help, thoughts!

Thanks guys,

Bobby C

Here is the link to the Mixer I picked up just incase you all need specs for what I should mix for the "formula"..

http://www.harborfreight.com/1-1-4-quarter-cubic-ft-compact-cement-mixer-91907.html

Edited by Cundiff5535
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Bobby, you might want to do a little research on dezincification. Most of the cleaning agents used for wet tumbling cause dezincification so you would actually be weakening the brass and opening yourself up for liability since you are selling it.

If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call or drop me a note.

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Hmm... I will look into that Mark. Thanks for the heads up here. I know those supersonic cleaners may be an issue but, I am curious now as do Dawn Dish Liquid and Lemon Shine. The only other thing that gets put in the mixer is brass and water.

Am I missing something here?

Still am going to research this.

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This is where most (if not all) originally come from:

http://www.pelletsllc.com/

Three sizes available, original, XL and XXL. We like the XXL best because they are large enough to not jam two in a primer hole in cases. Other people like the smallest ones, the XL are the newest iteration and are in between the two previous sizes.

There are about 50 pages on sniperhide devoted to stainless pin cleaning, by the time you read all that you'll be pretty up on the subject.

In your type of business, and the quantity you deal in, I'd look at a commercial tumbler. In your concrete mixer you'll need a considerable amount of pins. They run $6.00 per pound.

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I am not familiar with the interior of the mixer you got from HF. Is the interior smooth or does it have blades? If it is smooth you won't get the mixing action you would get with blades to give more agitation to the cases. Seems like they would be easy to install on the interior. Bigdawg is the expert in the BE forum and hopefully he will add his 2 cents worth.

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One thing to keep in mind is that most - me included - recommend 1 pound of pins per one pound of brass. Some go even higher than that on the pins. Also, remember the weight of the liquid as you need to totally cover the load. No idea what the weight capacity of a mixer such as the one you acquired.

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Yes, Bobby. The firearms community has been a little ignorant with respect to dezincification and wet tumbling. It is a corrosion process the removes zinc from the alloy leaving behind a copper rich structure with reduced strength. It generally occurs when the brass contains 15% (Cartridge brass is 30% Zinc) or more zinc in an aqueous environment that is slightly acidic or alkaline. I have worked several cases where this was the failure mode. Materials failure is a large part of what I do in my forensic work.

You can do a simple internet search on "Dezincification", "Dealloying of Brass", "Stress Corrosion Cracking of Brass" if you want to read a few articles.

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I am not familiar with the interior of the mixer you got from HF. Is the interior smooth or does it have blades? If it is smooth you won't get the mixing action you would get with blades to give more agitation to the cases. Seems like they would be easy to install on the interior. Bigdawg is the expert in the BE forum and hopefully he will add his 2 cents worth.

Yes this absolutely has blades inside of it... I am hoping BigDawg can chime in as well!!

One thing to keep in mind is that most - me included - recommend 1 pound of pins per one pound of brass. Some go even higher than that on the pins. Also, remember the weight of the liquid as you need to totally cover the load. No idea what the weight capacity of a mixer such as the one you acquired.

Ok, so what you are saying is I need LOTS of pins:) Thats not an issue (I just have to buy them)... Weight capacity is 150 lbs on this unit. Seeing that I just need to do a 5gallon bucket at a time, I think this will work out, no?

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Mark - If I understand correctly Dezinzification is only an issue if you are using an acidic cleaning agent like lemi shine. So if you were to skip the lemi shine (assuming you do not have naturally acidic water) you would not have the issue correct? Your brass may not be as shiny but it will be just as clean.

Defer to your knowledge but this is my understanding.

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Mark - If I understand correctly Dezinzification is only an issue if you are using an acidic cleaning agent like lemi shine. So if you were to skip the lemi shine (assuming you do not have naturally acidic water) you would not have the issue correct? Your brass may not be as shiny but it will be just as clean.

Defer to your knowledge but this is my understanding.

Once you go away from neutral pH, you have the potential. Plumbing brass is sometimes "Navy" brass which is about 30% zinc, but with some lead and tin, and it suffers from dezincification in potable waters. Most common detergents will cause dezincification.

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Have you thought about the logistics of draining the water and pins from the tub? Does the tub have a drain hole? You would also need a filter or mesh to catch the pins.

Yes, I have thought about it a little bit... I have a "Screen that I am going to put over the opening and just dump it. it should strain out a lot of the water and from there, Ill just wash it out. Since I have drains all over my shop, I am not worried about water going everywhere. I can then dump the cases and media into a separator and spin it a few times to get most of the pins out. I was also thinking of running a magnet through it to make sure there are no little ones hiding or over looked. I figured I would then throw the brass into a mesh bag and pop it into a spare dryer and run it for a few.

To be honest, I have not even opened the mixer yet because some of the replies have me worried that the "cheap" mixer isnt the right way to go here... honest opinion... do I open it and see how it goes with this mixer or go a different route?

Thanks

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I know of some individuals who have used the cement mixer to clean large quantities of brass but by using the dry method. I really don't know how the mixer would work with liquid. The weight of the cases, pins, and water might be too heavy for the motor on the mixer. Also Harbor Freight stuff doesn't really have a good reputation for quality and stamina. Were any reviews available for the mixer. Have you read the other threads on BE concerning cleaning with Stainless Steel pins? You might try to find a sturdier model and take the HF mixer back for a refund.

Edited by The_Vigilante
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On dezincification - I spent some time reading last night about the issue. I gathered that dezincification generally occurs when using warm water (warmer than room temperature) and stagnate water with an acidic PH. Additionally it seems that it is a rather slow process. To avoid the potential problem stainless steel cleaning should be done with cold water and the brass should be removed from the water as soon as the tumbling is complete. Although possible, it seems unlikely that any significant zinc leeching can occur during normal stainless steel cleaning. YMMV

Edit to say this is only as smart as I could get with the Google in about an hour reading. Not exactly an easy topic to get relevant info on.

Edited by ctay
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I have been stainless tumbling brass for awhile with lemi-shine and without I do not let brass set in water more than 4 hours probably. I know a lot of F Class guys doing the same thing without any trouble. De Zincification must be an extreme scenerio.

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Hey fellas, I just want to chime in and show some of the findings I had today. So I set up the cement mixer, I used about 1/3 cup of Dawn and a 40 cap full of Lemi-Shine.

I emptied a 5 gallon bucket of 40 brass into the mixer tossed in the dawn and lemi shine and turned it on. I then started to add water (Hose water which was ice cold) to the mixer and turned the mixer so that I could see the brass start tumbling and aggressively rolling around. I used a little more water at that point... really filled it until water started to come out of the hole on the mixer... and suds started foaming everywhere. I let the load (which was filthy) go for around 35-40 mins (max)

End result was pretty impressive for no media or cap on the machine. I was also very impressed that I was able to clean a full 5 gallon bucket of brass in just about 35 mins.... far less time that my Dillon vibrating tumblers could have. Here are some pics of the bucket I did today...

I will be updating this thread as I am making a cap for the mixer, I am also getting some media for it... I am not even sure I need to do anything else but, I figure what the heck... why not.

What do you guys think?

Just finished tumbling....

IMAG0242_zpsb0e7446d.jpg

Clean Brass!!!

IMAG0243_zpsdf944ae3.jpg

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Looks real nice. However, once you add the stainless steel media it's gonna add a lot of weight to the unit. Do you have any information on the motor running the mixer? Maybe you could buy a better, durable motor for it. Or maybe if the brass meets your satisfaction like it is you may decide not to get the stainless steel media. Are the insides of the brass clean? How about the primer holes? Would be interested in seeing the cap you are getting for it. I may think about buying one if everything goes well for you.

Edited by The_Vigilante
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Looks real nice. However, once you add the stainless steel media it's gonna add a lot of weight to the unit. Do you have any information on the motor running the mixer? Maybe you could buy a better, durable motor for it. Or maybe if the brass meets your satisfaction like it is you may decide not to get the stainless steel media. Are the insides of the brass clean? How about the primer holes? Would be interested in seeing the cap you are getting for it. I may think about buying one if everything goes well for you.

I understand that the media will weigh this down a lot. I figured, since I just did 1 full 5 gallon bucket I can live with a half of one with the media. Even if it takes an hour or so, Im still way ahead of the game on it. As far as the motor... I have given it some thought and figured... for 120.00 bucks, I got the machine with motor. I am going to run this thing till it takes a crap. I can then "upgrade" the motor if it goes out. Its not like I do not have access to getting nicer ones. The electrical folks that I employee can just wire it up and the rest can be fabricated or made to work!

As far as the inside of the brass, it is clean but, its definitely perfect like it would be with the media... Since this was my first load, I didnt expect it to be though!

The Primer pockets... same answer as above. If it were me shooting them, I really wouldnt care all that much though. As long as it shoots, thats my biggest thing!

I will add that I did not deprime these as I was not sure how this was going to turn out. Since I use a 650, the deprime is just part of my sequence. I do have to say, I have these laying out to see just how well I can get these to dry. I know depriming is make drying easier but, I honestly went into today as a total test. Since I do not shoot 40, have way more than I know what to do with, and have no real use for them... other than possibly selling them... I really didnt care if they got messed up. They are my test batch:)

They are laying out dying now so once they are dry, Ill run a swab into a few of them to see if they are truly dry or there is some water still inside.

Ill update you when I get back to them!

Edited by Cundiff5535
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From looking at the brass it appears the exterior is clean and shiny. However, looks like the interior of some of the brass appears dingy-hard to tell. Once you get the stainless steel media the entire casing will be completely clean and shiny like new brass. I alway deprimed before cleaning and the primer hole was completely clean. I don't know whether you want to go to that much trouble or not. Do you plan on selling brass?

Edited by The_Vigilante
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From looking at the brass it appears the exterior is clean and shiny. However, looks like the interior of some of the brass appears dingy-hard to tell. Once you get the stainless steel media the entire casing will be completely clean and shiny like new brass. I alway deprimed before cleaning and the primer hole was completely clean. I don't know whether you want to go to that much trouble or not. Do you plan on selling brass?

I typically do sell brass on other forums... Especially calibers that I don't load.... I have never deprimed in the past but, I. Not opposed to the idea. In your opinion is it worth it to do it?

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