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Thread: Tumbler Media?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Tumbler Media?

    What would y'all recommend for tumbling media?

    I have about 20k rounds of brass that was just found at a friends house(and given to me) that I need to polish up to trade off for stuff I can actually use

    I've looked through it, and it's not terrible bad, but needs to be cleaned up a bit.

    I was thinking a walnut media, but it's going to cost more for shipping than the bag of media from Midway, and I don't have anything local(except Gander Mtn, and Midway would still be cheaper with the shipping).

    A few folks recommends some type of animal bedding or litter, but I've never messed with that.

    Also, someone mentioned some kind of car polish, but again, I've never messed with it.


    The tumbler I'm going to be using is a 5 gallon bucket mounted on a slow rpm direct drive motor(I built it the first time about 10 years ago for rocks).

    Any recommendations?

    Also, I'm not doing any liquid cleaners, I want something I put in the bucket, turn it on and walk away, come back the next day and pull the brass out.
    I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    lizzard litter from most any pet store is walnut shells that is what i used when i dry tumbled.

    here is an example lizzard litter

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    http://www.drillspot.com/products/49...bs_blast_media
    This is prolly the best deal around and enough to do 20k cases. Walnut shells (lizzard litter) cleans pretty fast but doesn't give that "virgin brass, glossy shine", which is fine with me. Most of thr corn cob I've seen at pet stores was a flake, not the grit used for tumbling/blasting and doesn't work very well for tumbling brass.
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  4. #4
    Boolit Master joec's Avatar
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    Or best yet if you have a Harbor Fright in your area buy their Walnut media and it comes in fine (which I use) or course. I find it is even cheaper that the pet store stuff also. I mix it with a couple of table spoons of Franklin Arsenal brass polish or Flitze brass polish. I also through it a lint sheet for driers cut into about 4 pieces. It works really well too.
    Joe

  5. #5
    PAPERPATCH MASTER


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    I agree with ordering from DrillSpot.com for corncob material. The car polish you add to the media is in an orange bottle and is called Nu-Finish I believe. The last homemade tumbler that I made I riveted some pieces of wood on the inside of the drum to agitate the media and brass as it turns. Depending on the amount of media in the bucket, I`d put about 2 capfuls of Nu-Finish per pound of media to start off. Let it mix in before adding the brass.Robert

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    OK now that you have teased us what kind of brass??

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I'm still sorting and waiting on my 30 days to be up. I would've sworn I joined this forum the first time ABT went down, guess I didn't.

    But it's a lot, two 50 cal cans full, 2 30 cal cans full, and 2 coffee cans full.

    The .22-250, .243, .308, and .30-06 are spoken for(the fellow that I got the brass from wants the .308 and .22-250 cleaned and decapped for himself, and the .243 and .30-06 are for me)

    The rest is fair game, and there is everything from .22 hornet to 7mag, and I've run across a couple of .300 RUM and some unmarked cases(looks to be close to .30-06, I'll put the calipers on the unknowns when I get them sorted out)
    I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

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  8. #8
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    Usually anybody that buys once fired rifle brass prefers that it be left alone. Once polished there's signs that have been removed, don't ask me what signs I'm talking about but there was a post about it not long ago and most wanted the brass to be dull/dirty or basically as is. Seems most people that sell it clean it up to make more money from it, me I'll pass on the clean stuff and continue with the dull stuff myself.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRUMPA View Post
    Usually anybody that buys once fired rifle brass prefers that it be left alone. Once polished there's signs that have been removed, don't ask me what signs I'm talking about but there was a post about it not long ago and most wanted the brass to be dull/dirty or basically as is. Seems most people that sell it clean it up to make more money from it, me I'll pass on the clean stuff and continue with the dull stuff myself.
    Right on, never thought about it like that.

    I still have to finish up the tumbler for myself and my brass.

    I'll probably leave the other stuff alone and sell it as it is.
    I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRUMPA View Post
    Usually anybody that buys once fired rifle brass prefers that it be left alone. Once polished there's signs that have been removed, don't ask me what signs I'm talking about but there was a post about it not long ago and most wanted the brass to be dull/dirty or basically as is. Seems most people that sell it clean it up to make more money from it, me I'll pass on the clean stuff and continue with the dull stuff myself.
    Big +1 especially for rifle brass, pistol not so much for me but pressures are much lower and they usually can be loaded many more times than rifle.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    All the brass is dirty, some dirtier than others(I mean literal dirt, from being stored in and outside storage building for who knows how long).

    The brass all came from a good friend of mine and some of it was his dad's and other stuff belonged to his roommate that he had about 12 years ago. He doesn't know which is which.

    It's assumed that most of it is once-fired, but he doesn't know for sure, and the prices will reflect that when the post is made.

    Hopefully, I should have everything sorted in the next couple of weeks and have a nice list. Some of the brass will have been cleaned and polished, simply because I didn't know folks wanted it dirty, and I wanted to try the lemon juice and water method, then in the oven. That's amazing how shiny it got(after the pink was polished off of it) It's only about 50 cases or so, because I was bored.
    I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

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  12. #12
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    Here's my two cents worth, and I have been teaching reloading classes for years:

    1) Put the media in the tumbler, NO BRASS YET. About 2/3 full.
    2) Add a healthy splash of mineral spirits (paint thinner) to the media, and then a capful of NuFinish car polish. The mineral spirits will help break down soot and chamber oils easily, and the NuFinsh will give the brass a bright clean polished look when you are done. Technically, you only need to get soot, and sand/dirt off the brass to make it safe to reload. But, I take pride in the loom of my reloaded brass, and want it to look at least as good as factory brass when I am done. The mineral spirits and NuFinish do that. NuFinish doesn't contain any abrasives, nor does it contain any ammonia. It;s one of the very few synthetic polishes that is OK for use with polishing brass.
    3) put the cover on the tumbler, and allow the mineral spirits and NuFinish to tumble for about 15-20 minutes, again no brass yet. If you put the liquids in now, and add the brass right away, the media gets stuck in clumps inside the brass.
    4) when the 15-20 minutes of hydrating the media have completed, remove all of the media from the tumbler into a bucket.
    5) Fill the tumbler 1/2 full of brass.
    6) Pour your hydrated media over and on top of the brass, and hand shake the tumbler bowl to get more media in.
    NOTE: It's not the weight of the media pressing against the brass that polishes well. It's the weight of the brass in the tumbler, pressing the media into the other brass, that makes it work better and faster. Filling the tumbler about 1/2 full of brass, and then adding the media allows the bowl to get properly loaded for efficient and fast cleaning and polishing.
    7) Put the cover on the bowl, plug the tumbler in, and turn it on. Check for proper media level. The media should just about fill the bowl, leaving a slight gap that allows the rolling action. Add hydrated media as needed.
    8) About two hours, using this technique, should get you polished brass that would otherwise take you all night (overnight) to accomplish. The presumption is that you started with recently fired brass. If you have some stuff that's really dark, weathered, etc, it might take an additional two-three hours to get the same results.
    9) Don't worry about my technique for loading the bowls. They are rated based on approx number of rounds to get to a weight, and my rough filling level, above, gets you there most of the time. The cheap tumblers use a bronze bushing for the motor spindle bearings. The offset weights on the motor spindle causes that type of cheap motor to wear out quickly (constant use, a year and a half or so). The better tumblers use a real sealed roller bearing for the motor spindle, and will last a lifetime with common and every day use. The Dillon machines have my highest recommendation. They will repair a worn tumbler for a lot less the cost of a new one.
    10) I prefer the lizard type pet store media over any corn cob media. The walnut shell is more durable, and seems to handle the liquids better. I find that there are some of the amazon.com sources for the biggest bags of the lizard walnut media that makes it an even better than buying it at your local pet store. Use the corn cob IF you are one of the people who have a NUT ALLERGY. We don't want you getting sick trying to save money polishing brass. If you do buy the corn cob, the drill spot company is the best place. They are an on-line division of Grainger, and the shipment will actually come from a close by Grainger location, usually by the middle of the day after you place the order.
    11) I don't ever see the silly (in my opinion) need to use old or new dryer sheets in any of the media. It lasts a long time on it's own. Dispose of it as hazmat material (I take it to my town recyling center, and dump it in with used oil that they collect. They burn it. ) You can dispose of it when it gets sandy and gritty and nearly black. I save some of the older stuff in a separate bucket, to use briefly with some of the muddy rainy day brass I bring home. Make sure that you rehydrate all media (walnut or corn cob) with mineral spirits and NuFinish, as you do NOT want to be accidentally breathing any of the contaminated dust from the polishing process. The real danger is the mercury based chemicals from the priming system.

    I would ask the mods to make this a sticky!
    Last edited by DukeInFlorida; 11-03-2012 at 05:13 PM. Reason: edited typos


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  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    DukeInMaine, this is a great recipe that I was able to successfully use to get started tumbling. How often do you rehydrate your media? For now I'm fine as I dumped too much mineral spirits in and I get something akin to condensation on the top of the lid.

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub willy3's Avatar
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    JOEC is right on. Harbor Freight #24 grit crushed walnut is the way to go. Fine enough to not get packed into .22 caliber necks and it will get into primer holes and clean them. About a dollar a pound in 25 pound boxes. I've tumbled 100,000+ cases and still on my first box of media.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    Just get a bag of cheap short grained rice from the local oriental market. It work very well as a case cleaner and is very inexpensive. I've been using it for years now. Only down side is the grains turn black and look like mouse turds if the spill on the floor.....wife or daughters may get upset about the mouses in the house, garage, or where ever.......upturn to that is it usually is a good excuse to get a quality air rifle to thus defend hme and hearth from those "beasts"

    Larry Gibson

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Duke In Maine, a Sticky Worthy post if there ever was one. One element to expound on is the mercury issue from priming compounds; since corrosive priming for domestic military and commercial ammuntition hasn't been used for over 70 yrs, the likelyhood of this contaminatioin is low. Perchlorates likewise are rarely found except in the berdan primed foreign ammo and WWII or earlier military stuff. Today's priming mixtures are lead styphnate based and of course are a cause for their own precautions. With the relatively inexpensive costs of trading out the media on a regular basis and the small amounts of brass the typical non-commercial loader works with each year, just discard the media when it gets grungy. I do agree that adding a quartered spent dryer sheet does help with the particulate matter/dust that results from polishing, and the issue of potentially breathing it in. I have asthma and can certainly empathize with anyone sensitive to it. Another suggestion is to add simple isopropyl alcohol to the media along with a small amount of polish as directed by Duke's most informative post. I offer this as an alternative, and it has worked for me quite well. A $.79 pint bottle goes a long way.
    Drillspot is the best source I have found as well, and I go through at least one box a year due to the literally 10s of thousands of cases I process. 20/14 grit in the corncob is my preferred media.
    Got-R-Did.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    I am using a fine corn cob for media. My brass shines like new. I purchased a 32 pound bag of it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold
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    I bought from drill spot myself and the fine corn cobs work just great. Wasn't the shipping free?

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I believe you are correct Go Fish. Took 3 days for my last order to arrive.
    Got-R-Did.

  20. #20
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    I tried Duke's method and all I can say is WOW!!! I have been doing it wrong all these years.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check