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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been pounding threw reloads of my once fired brass and recently purchased 500 as is brass cases of 9mm,and 460 of 357 mag from a indoor range. while going threw the motions I inspected the brass while resizing and depriming and only found 2 with some damage to the case mouth and the rest were good. while doing this process I found some brass super hard to expand and to resize. I did not clean any of the brass just used as is it was all good just some normal powder fouling and the normal little crust in the primer pocket.

Do you recommend cleaning the brass? does it make it easier to resize and expand ?

I was looking at some methods with dawndish soap and lemi shine in a container and shaking it to clean them up.

not looking to buy a tumbkler at the moment but do Like the wet tumble method.

any input is welcome

Thanks in advance
 

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With the brass being as you say I would not think a rinsing like you mention would make much difference while sizing. I think the issue is more of a case wall thickness than anything. Some of the more knowledgeable folks will be along to give you better info.

The brass I pick up is from an outdoor range here in FL. so I do use a prewash of sorts like you mention. The brass often has a lot of the FL. sand in it and I would never run that stuff through a sizing die. I don't even want to run the sandy brass through the deprime only die I use.
 

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My range pickup of my own and others brass is almost always indoors so they are just carboned up from the propellant. My pistol dies are all carbide so I will deprime and resize them dirty to get ready to wet tumble with pins. With the larger calibers like 45 ACP and 44 Magnum I will sometimes spritz them with my Lee Case Lube/alcohol mix in a spray bottle to get them to run in the die easier.

Regarding cleaning brass either before or after depriming/resizing some folks, kmw1954 and others, will strictly wet wash them in a Dawn solution in a jar which can be manually tumbled. Lemishine, lemon juice, citric acid can help cut the crud.

When I wet tumble with pins I will add the Dawn, Lemishine and a cap of Armorall car wash and polish to the solution. The last keeps it from tarnishing and they slide into the dies easier for reloading.
 

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Cleaning brass keeps your dies clean as well. Dirty dies scratch and mar brass which decreases case life and in some extreme cases, could contribute to a catastrophic failure. Although extreme, continued practice of not cleaning brass could lead to high amounts of build-up inside the case, decreasing the case capacity or making seating difficult (again, every time you resize, that gunk is going to get all over your expander ball). Just using dish soap and shaking them around a bit isn't going to really get the carbon deposits out. You'd need to take a bore brush to them.


The standard vibratory cleaners are pretty inexpensive and do a fair job on the outside of the case but not really on the inside- they do prevent buildup. Wet tumblers using steel pins will make the brass look almost like new, inside and out.
 

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I should add I didn't give a complete answer. Yissnakk points out the obvious. Yes I would very much run the range brass you describe through a vibratory tumbler before sizing. As I said earlier I wouldn't bother with any sort of pre-wash but yes do the vibratory tumbler. They are not all that expensive. Use corn cob or crushed walnut shells, throw in a dryer sheet and let it tumble for a couple hours. A few examples.

https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/0003802022/vibratory-case-tumbler
https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/000157631318/1200-pro-turbo-tumbler-110-volt
https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/00122855020/quick-n-ez-case-tumbler
https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/00122855020/quick-n-ez-case-tumbler
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
With the brass being as you say I would not think a rinsing like you mention would make much difference while sizing. I think the issue is more of a case wall thickness than anything. Some of the more knowledgeable folks will be along to give you better info.

The brass I pick up is from an outdoor range here in FL. so I do use a prewash of sorts like you mention. The brass often has a lot of the FL. sand in it and I would never run that stuff through a sizing die. I don't even want to run the sandy brass through the deprime only die I use.
I should add I didn't give a complete answer. Yissnakk points out the obvious. Yes I would very much run the range brass you describe through a vibratory tumbler before sizing. As I said earlier I wouldn't bother with any sort of pre-wash but yes do the vibratory tumbler. They are not all that expensive. Use corn cob or crushed walnut shells, throw in a dryer sheet and let it tumble for a couple hours. A few examples.

https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/0003802022/vibratory-case-tumbler
https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/000157631318/1200-pro-turbo-tumbler-110-volt
https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/00122855020/quick-n-ez-case-tumbler
https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/00122855020/quick-n-ez-case-tumbler

do you rinse the brass off after a dry tumbling through that? does it also clean the inside of the brass or is it more of a outside polish?


Seems to me wet tumbling is the way to go in the long run
 

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If you are trying to reload on the cheap, you will need to go the wet wash route, just deprime before washing. $10 gets you a Lee universal depriming die, these will not load up like when you use your sizing die to deprime, so the crud falls out and does not scratch your brass. So, yes, keep dirty brass out of your dies.

And yes, you will need to clean your brass. Build up reduces case capacity, which increases pressure, not good. For number of years now I have been soaking my dirty deprimed brass in a hot solution of several gallons water with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice per gallon. Since I already have a vibe tumbler, I throw the wet brass in the tumbler until it is dry. But you can also get a cheap food dehydrator and dry the brass in it. I like just lemon juice, but if you use Lemishine, you will need to use some Dawn as the Lemishine is quite greasy, and you might as well add something to keep the water spots off the brass too. I clean my brass in a big chili pot. I heat the water (not boiling) and add the lemon juice. I keep my brass sorted in plastic coffee cans that I add drainage holes, so I can just sit the whole can in the chili pot. But for smaller numbers of brass you can either use a smaller pot and just dump the brass in, or just add the solution to those plastic coffee cans but without the drain holes.

The hard to size brass is more than likely military brass. It will also have the primers crimped in place. Best for you NOT to try and reload these as you will need to swage the primer pocket before you try to insert a primer. Most of the military brass will have a red tinge around the primer pocket from the sealant used on them and there are tell tale marks from crimping.
 
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Yes I do it on the cheap and I don't use SS pins. I just use the plastic jar that peanuts come in, add about a 9mm case full of Lemishine and a small drizzle of dish soap. then fill the jar about 1/2 way with brass and then add hot water as I can get until it just covers the brass. I then hand shake/tumble while either watching TV or surfin the forums. This is what you see in the jar with the green lid. I will shake tumble turn for about 1/2 hour or so. Basically it is just tumbling on it's self. I then rinse again in as hot of water as I can get. Then dump into an old terry towel and roll it back and forth to get as much water off as I can then I put it in an old toaster over at 200* for 30min and then leave it until cool to pick up.

The second picture is the finished product. Not looking for a bright polished look, just a cleaned surface and to get as much carbon as possible removed.

Mason jar

Brass Ammunition Metal Electronic component Rim
 

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When in doubt, run a magnet over them. Steel cases are many times finished to look like brass. If you take it to your local recycler, I can just about guarantee that they'll run a magnet over the cases.

But, when 9mm cases measure more than .011" in thickness; measured within 1mm of the case-mouth, they will require more effort in resizing. Myself, I segregate cases by brand/headstamp, from knowing how various brands will measure. If you load bullets greater than .355", use them with the thinner cases. On the short side of .355"? Load them in the thicker cases.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes I do it on the cheap and I don't use SS pins. I just use the plastic jar that peanuts come in, add about a 9mm case full of Lemishine and a small drizzle of dish soap. then fill the jar about 1/2 way with brass and then add hot water as I can get until it just covers the brass. I then hand shake/tumble while either watching TV or surfin the forums. This is what you see in the jar with the green lid. I will shake tumble turn for about 1/2 hour or so. Basically it is just tumbling on it's self. I then rinse again in as hot of water as I can get. Then dump into an old terry towel and roll it back and forth to get as much water off as I can then I put it in an old toaster over at 200* for 30min and then leave it until cool to pick up.

The second picture is the finished product. Not looking for a bright polished look, just a cleaned surface and to get as much carbon as possible removed.

View attachment 436427

View attachment 436429

Very nice , do you ever de prime them prior to cleaning them?
 

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Very nice , do you ever de prime them prior to cleaning them?
No I do not which is another reason why I run them thru the Toaster oven. When I first started washing I ended up with a squib because of wet powder. Scared the hockey sticks out of me.
 
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do you rinse the brass off after a dry tumbling through that? does it also clean the inside of the brass or is it more of a outside polish?


Seems to me wet tumbling is the way to go in the long run
No not necessary to rinse after dry tumbling. The inside of the brass does not get as clean and shiny as the outside but it will work/size just fine. I used that method for a long time.

I have done both processes. Right now I'm wet tumbling with SS pins. It works great but requires depriming the case. Or it does in my book. An old primed case tumbled in water will hold that water for a very long time regardless of drying method. Nothing I'm going to trust anyway.

Right now if I had the space and money I would use both processes. Straight walled pistol brass would get dry tumbled and that's it. Run it through the progressive press.

Rifle brass currently gets deprimed and wet tumbled in SS pins and I would continue to do that process.
 

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I've generally been doing something like Darbo, just running my pistol brass through the dry media and doing the de-cap and wet tumble with rifle. However, I do notice that my pistol dies are getting really dirty, really quickly (I do also collect a lot of range brass from other people) so I've started running all my brass through the wet tumbler - but had to take a hiatus over the winter (too danged cold to be messing with water in a garage!)
 
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Are there any brushes that can be run inside the cases to clean them out or just normal.brass brushes should be ok?
A brass brush would work fine but I have to think it would take a LOT of time. Pick a tumbling method and go with it. You'll be happy you did!
 

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Are there any brushes that can be run inside the cases to clean them out or just normal.brass brushes should be ok?
Yep - just a plain old bore brush will work - it won't be able to get into every nook and cranny but it'll get the job done. If you are determined to do this the most economical way possible, then really, all you need to do is soak the brass in HOT (boiling) water with some dawn-like dish soap, simple green, or something with a degreaser in it and a little lemishine or just plain lemon juice (you can agitate it if you want - shake it or swirl it around - but main thing is the hot water and detergent).

If you are going to run the brush through them then even agitation is pointless; just let them soak for a few minutes. After hitting them with the bore brush to get the crud out, rinse and agitate to make sure all the dislodged gunk is out of them and not plugging up flash holes. Then just spread them out on a baking pan or cookie sheet and toss them in an oven preheated to about 250F and leave them in there for about an hour to ensure complete evaporation of all water and dryness of cases.
 

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A brass brush would work fine but I have to think it would take a LOT of time. Pick a tumbling method and go with it. You'll be happy you did!

Yikes! That would take a TON of time.

When I first started out I would just dry tumble in walnut with the primers still in...this was for straight walled pistol brass. I was a bit concerned about the media getting stuck in the flash hole and/or primer pockets...then realized that in the depriming process with the Lee decapper/resizer that the decapping pin is running through there anyway and that should clear the way for the spark to ignite the new round. I never had any issues like that. The idea of going back to dry tumbling of pistol brass is attractive as the decapping and wet pin tumbling is a lot more work.

Regarding the affordability of a dry tumbler, there are plans on the web for DIY tumblers also.
 
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Just to clarify - my personal current process for pistol brass is to decap (with the universal decapping die) all my range brass, then run it through the wet tumbler with SS pins, some degreasing detergent and some lemi-shine like substance. I follow up by tossing the brass into a Frankford Arsenal brass dryer (found it to be cheaper than most food dehydrators of comparable size) then I simply store it in my brass containers, labelled and sealed.
 
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Just to clarify - my personal current process for pistol brass is to decap (with the universal decapping die) all my range brass, then run it through the wet tumbler with SS pins, some degreasing detergent and some lemi-shine like substance. I follow up by tossing the brass into a Frankford Arsenal brass dryer (found it to be cheaper than most food dehydrators of comparable size) then I simply store it in my brass containers, labelled and sealed.

Sounds exactly like what I've been doing. I started looking for a garage sale dehydrator and gave up since they all wanted close to the price for new from Harbor Freight. Rather than spend even that 25 bucks, I found an old clamp-on office type fan and have then clamped onto the shelf over my reloading bench. With the clamp type brooder lamp and a 100w bulb shining on the screen tray of brass it's dry within an hour or two. My test is to take a few cases and rap them onto the bench to see if they give up a drop on water.

I have decided to buy a Universal Decapping die...for 15 dollars it's a wise investment and I have open turret holes to store it in...
 
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