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Wet tumbling without decapping first?


FTDMFR

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This was touched on by another thread, but i didn't want to thread jack.

Currently, before wet tumbling my brass, I decap it by running it through my 650 with a Lee Universal Decapper. It's fast, but not as fast as not decapping at all... So, I'm thinking about skipping the decapping step and just drying the hell out of the brass after tumbling in my food dehydrator.

Does anyone else do this? Will the non-decapped (capped?) brass dry reliably in the food dehydrator if I leave it in for long enough?

I've read concerns about pins being stuck in the flash hole, but I look inside the cases 100% for damage and to screen out Ammoload / IMT cases, so that won't be an issue for me.

Also, I don't really care if the primer pockets don't get cleaned.

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I have had no issues with decapping after wet pin cleaning. I do dry my brass for 50 minutes in clothes dryer that has a drying rack. On warm sunny days I leave them spread out on a towel in the back of my jeep for some solar drying.

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I leave the primers in, after cleaning, separating, and rinsing the brass. I pour the brass on a towel, pick up the ends and roll them side to side. I repeat this with 4 more towels (they get progressively dryer) on the last towel, if it's sunny and warm out I put them out in the sun, if not, I leave them to dry for 3-4 days before pouring the brass into the bucket by the press. I've never had any problem with moisture contamination and I've done over 50K this way.

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I deprime before tumbling but I just like to have the primer pockets clean. However, after the millions of rounds reloaded by everyone over the years without cleaning the primer pockets, you can't make a case that it is necessary.

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I tumble wet and dry sometimes primed, sometimes not. Just depends and really doesn't make any measurable difference no matter what way you do it, as long as they are clean.

As for tumbling wet with spent primers, this is a batch of 3000 from the small tumbler I built. In the Texas sun, it was not only dry in 2.5 beers but also to hot to hold in your hand for more than a few seconds.

IMG_20130727_144639_090_zpsd9095290.jpg

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  • 2 years later...
I tumble wet and dry sometimes primed, sometimes not. Just depends and really doesn't make any measurable difference no matter what way you do it, as long as they are clean.
As for tumbling wet with spent primers, this is a batch of 3000 from the small tumbler I built. In the Texas sun, it was not only dry in 2.5 beers but also to hot to hold in your hand for more than a few seconds.
IMG_20130727_144639_090_zpsd9095290.jpg

I know this is an old thread, but I did a quick search before posting a new thread with the exact same question.

Thanks for providing the answer and for the chuckle. I like the way you mark time!

M


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I'm with you...sometimes it is good to resurrect older threads and actually this one isn't that old. :)  I keep going back and forth on whether or not I want to try tumble or wet tumble my brass.  I can get a Frankford Arsenal dry tumbler on Amazon for like $60 (without the media) or I can get a Frankford Arsenal wet tumbler on Amazon for like $110 (with 3.5# of stainless steel media included).  So, I'm almost inclined to try the wet tumbling because it really isn't that much more and the media can keep being reused unlike the dry that has to be replaced after a certain amount of time.  But then again, you have to either wait for the brass to dry outside or buy driers to dry the brass if you want to try and load right away, which you don't have to when you dry tumble.  Soooo, it's a toss up either way and that would be even more equipment to buy if you are trying to tumble in the winter where you aren't going to set the brass outside here in Kentucky to try and dry.  LOL!  Unless you want ice brassicles.  LOL!

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Last year I started wet tumbling my brass (with primers in) as I got tired of the dust tumbling with media. My setup was such that I would have to carry the brass from the garage to the basement mulitple times - this didnt make sense, and I really wasnt set up to de-prime prior to wet tumbling.

 

 I had problems getting the brass dry enough until I get the FA dehydrator. I would tumble for 90 min and dry the brass for 90 min, and had no issues as this worked very well, for a short time.  I was having a helluva time with primers not getting completely ejected during loading.  This was due to the primers getting "glued" into the pocket by the residue.  I switched back to media tumbling and all the issues went away.

 

I've seen many suggestions to de-prime prior to wet tumbling for a lot of good reasons: clean primer pockets, dry quicker, etc.  But I have never seen this issue brought up before as a reason for de-priming first. If I were to do it again, I would definitely de-primer first. 

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Same cause as the "ringers" you get from brass that has been left lying around outside for a long time.  If you can't get it dry in a reasonable period of time it is a lot better to deprime first.  If you have a sufficient amount of brass you can take as long as you wish for it to dry as you load from your supply of previously prepped brass.

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R1-D,

I'm a wet tumbling fan. Tried using corncob and walnut media and wasn't happy with the results - brass wasn't as clean and found it to dusty to do inside.

As for drying, I picked up a cheap dehydrator at Wal-Mart and then lucked into some extra trays on Amazon (3 original + 6 extras). I'll dry ~40#'s of 9mm brass in 2-3 hours, turn the dehydrator off and let the cases cool overnight. By morning they are ready to reload or sort by headstamp.

I have always deprimed prior to tumbling, but I am loading in volume now and it didn't make much sense to me to continue processing brass twice when it could be done in one pass.

M


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I just started tumbling with the pins. I also don't decap before tumbling. It takes several days for the cases to dry completely and I move them around a couple times a day to make sure none are stuck together end to end and keeping from drying. After a few days I put them in a ziplock. I've found that if I give them at least two days to dry that there are no issues. If I try to put them in after 24-48 hours that the bag will develop condensation. I then dump out and dry for one more day.

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M - Thanks for the heads up on the Walmart dehydrator. :) 

 

All - But if you decap before you wet tumble/clean the brass and you have a progressive press, don't you then run the risk of pushing dirty brass through your die and screwing it up?  That's the only thing I'm wondering.  I have a Hornady LnL AP and my first stage is my resizing/decaping die (Hornady die), so if I was going to "decap" my dirty brass before wet tumbling them, then I would have to "resize and decap" them through my press first.  Well, that means I'm taking a chance of scoring the resize/decap die because dirty brass is going through it.  

 

Or do you just wet tumble first (non-decapped), then resize/decap once they are clean and then re-wet tumble again once the brass is decapped/resized?  Then wehn you go to reload you just skip the resize/decapping stage because it is already done?

 

Ya, it's a newbie question...sorry.  LOL!  I haven't had to process any brass yet because I bought my first set of mixed brass already processed/cleaned, so I haven't had to go this route yet, so I'm still deciding whether I want to go the wet or dry tumble route yet.

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2 hours ago, R1_Demon said:

M - Thanks for the heads up on the Walmart dehydrator. :) 

 

All - But if you decap before you wet tumble/clean the brass and you have a progressive press, don't you then run the risk of pushing dirty brass through your die and screwing it up?

 

Not when you use a Lee universal decapping die

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I leave the primers in, after cleaning,rinsing and separating the pins. I put them into a cheap dehydrator for around 2-3 hours and never had a problem with the primer pockets etc

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M - Thanks for the heads up on the Walmart dehydrator. [emoji4] 
 
All - But if you decap before you wet tumble/clean the brass and you have a progressive press, don't you then run the risk of pushing dirty brass through your die and screwing it up?


True. It's a pretty filthy process running dirty brass through the case feeder and press as well.

I decap on a single stage (aka "the dirty press"). In-Line Fabrications makes a bin mount that includes a case ejector that's perfect for this job.

Glove on the left hand to feed brass on the up stroke on a universal decapping die, you can move through a pile of cases pretty quickly (and stay clean!).

Kind of a zen thing once you get into a rhythm, although it's not particularly practical at higher volumes on an automated machine.

M



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In a past life I had a job as a methods engineer in the auto industry.  That involved optimizing processes for reducing takt time.  I recently started wet tumbling and this is my process that has worked very well, no waiting.

 

I batch process medium volumes at a time, about a couple thousand or so pieces at a time. (use half the pins that came with the Frankford wet tumbler kit, allows more room for the brass and does just as well as using all of them)

Wet tumble without de-priming

Lay brass out on towels, spreading them out and laying them flat on their sides in the basement (dry in the winter and dehumidifier running in the summer)

They dry in two days without any help

Dry tumble for 30 minutes with Nu Finish to provide a light slick coating to help further processing and ensure they are dry.  This is an extra step and not necessary, just like the results.

Put processed brass into 5 gallon buckets ready to reload

 

I keep feeding this process and never have to wait.  What I mean by that is when I start the process I end up with a batch of brass at each "station" on the third day of starting the process.  I then run a batch through the wet tumbler every night for a week or two transferring the brass to each "station" once each station is full.  In a very short time I can have one or two 5 gallon bucket full of brass ready to reload.  The longest most labor intensive step is the wet tumbling.  The other steps take minutes.

 

I have found this wet tumbling process results in easier reloading with more consistent OAL on the finished rounds,  Never going back to dry only.

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So, I will either need to get a second single stage press with a decap only die or get a decap only die and use that on my AP press just to decap them IF I want to decap them prior to wet tumbling.  Again, that is IF I want to go that route.  Seems some people do decap prior to wet tumbling and others, such as sitw, do not and things work fine.  So, it is crap shoot either way.  LOL!  It seem as if it is all what process everyone is comfortable with because it appears to work fine either way (decapped or not) while wet tumbling.  It's just personal preference, or so it seems thus far. :)   Same with using the pins.  Some do, some don't.

 

So, I'm still going to have to make the decision on which way to go.  LOL  But thank you everyone for your input and the info.  Very cool. :)  Always good to have lots of info when making decisions. :D 

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I've never deprimed before wet cleaning. I look at it as an extra step in handling the brass. I've been cleaning with SS pins in a cement mixer for around 3 years now so that means I've processed around 150K pieces of brass. Never had a problem related to reloaded ammo.

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  • 1 month later...

If you aren't going to decap first, you might want to try cleaning them without the pins. They seem to get pretty clean with just Lemishine and Dawn if you are ignoring the primer pockets. 

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Try using Armor All Wash and Wax instead of Dawn. It leaves a nice coating on the brass so it doesn't tarnish as quickly and provides some slight lubrication.

 

FWIW, after my original post in this thread, I've loaded about 6K rounds of 9mm that were wet tumbled with primers with zero problems.

 

Unless it's something special, I have eliminated decapping from my cleaning process.

 

M

 

 

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On 8/14/2017 at 8:27 AM, jsg said:

If you aren't going to decap first, you might want to try cleaning them without the pins. They seem to get pretty clean with just Lemishine and Dawn if you are ignoring the primer pockets. 

 

This is exactly what I do in a concrete mixer. Works great for me and is very simple.

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The question of whether or not to deprime first really depends on where you are getting your brass from. I shoot at two different ranges, one being grass and dirt/mud and the other being gravel. The ones that come from the grass range are normally fairly clean unless it has rained that day or the night before. If I was getting indoor range pick up or grass pick up I may be tempted to decap before running them through the tumbler because the brass is already pretty clean. The gravel range brass winds up with dirt, small pebbles and other debris inside the cases. I can usually get most dumped out duringpick up and sorting but at times there is still dirt stuck in t he cases and to the cases. No way I'm running that crap through the press without cleaning so they go into the tumbler straight away. I've really found there is no reason to deprime first before tumbling as it all comes out looking nice and pretty in and out anyway once done and dried.

 

The only difference I have found between the brass I pick up is that the brass from the grass range comes out looking new where the gravel range brass looks like it has a shiney almost bead blasted finish. More satin than gloss because it was getting kicked around in dirt and gravel.

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