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Thread: SS pin tumbler and media setup...what do you use?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    SS pin tumbler and media setup...what do you use?

    OK...I am one step closer to starting to tumble with SS pins.
    My 30+ year old RCBS vibratory tumbler cleans 'em up sure....but even with NEW media it gives me a ho-hum kinda shine. It does an ADEQUATE job but certainly not as good as SS pins do.
    Yes, I know they don't shoot any better but it is a "pride in your work" kinda thing for me. It also allows a better way to catch imperfections and damage in the brass when it is shiny.
    What is the hot setup? What kind of tumbler do you guys recommend? Where do you get the SS pins? How long do they last? How much do they cost?
    I am at the point after 40 years where I have everything I need to cast and reload thousands of rounds per caliber.....which I do in my manic casting and reloading sessions.
    Kindly opine if you polish your brass with SS pins. I need to learn more.
    Thank you.
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    done it both ways and for me the pins are a a lot more work for a little bit of return, I am not going for aesthetic competitions at the range so brass that is a little dull is ok. the magnet would be a big help but you still have to make sure a pin does not get left in the brass. dry you can use a sifter and separate them fairly easy but wet those little buggers stick to everything.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    If you decide to Buy a new Rotary tumbler. . You should Look @ two. Lortone QT 12 or Thumler Model B. Both are well Made. Made in USA. all steel . Good motors . will last forever.
    I will not Advise using Pins stopped Years ago. People use them . I don't . prefer dry tumble.
    You can Look at Frankford . But there all Plastic and Poor choice. Lyman same as Frankford. Not for me
    NRA Endowment Member
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I have been doing it wet for a few years now. Started with the Thumlers unit, does well. IMO, it is cheaply made, I made several modifications to it and it works well. For me it didn't hold enough brass, so with the help of some here and other places on the web I built a larger one.
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    Separating the pins is not all that bad, keep the brass in the water as you "fluff" it. I have one bucket with the bottom cut out and hardware cloth in the bottom which sits inside another bucket of water. As I fluff the brass the pins fall to the bottom. Some people have used the 5 gallon media separator in a bucket of water with success also. I am very happy with my results, an hour and a half max and they are super clean.

    I got my pins off ebay I think, they were quite reasonable. I add a squirt of Dawn dish soap and a shake of lemon shine to the water, recently heard of adding Cream of Tarter to help also. Haven't ran any in a while. Hope my ramblings helped.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Eddie17's Avatar
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    Frankford SS Tumbler

    My Frankford Arsnel Rotary Tumbler has been running strong for 3 years with over 50,000 cases processed. Still using the included SS pins included, I donít think they will wear out. Will loose them faster!
    My 2 cents. Also sits on a very small foot print.
    Last edited by Eddie17; 10-08-2017 at 05:32 PM. Reason: More info

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Mytmousemalibu's Avatar
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    Home built unit here, made all myself and it cleans immensely well and does large batches, about 2500-3000 pieces of 9mm per load. The pins I got from Bullseye reloading? They are of the Ultra .047 variety that won't stick in flash holes. I don't think I'll be alive long enough to wear them out! Lose them on the other hand...
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    This innocent till proven guilty is more like a fantasy as time goes on. I don't know about you folks, but I for 1 am getting mighty tired of having to prove I'm innocent just because of what someone else thinks....

  7. #7
    Boolit Master





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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie17 View Post
    My Frankford Arsnel Rotary Tumbler has been running strong for 3 years with over 50,000 cases processed. Still using the included SS pins included, I don’t think they will wear out. Will loose them faster!
    My 2 cents. Also sits on a very small foot print.
    Yep got one 2 years ago and never had so much clean brass!!!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    I use a unit made by "Big Dawg" with their large drum. I have a 15# Thumblers drum that I use on smaller batches of brass, on the same tumbler. It's a large, heavy duty and expensive machine. The pins sell for around $5 per pound and a 15# capacity tumbler needs 5 #. They don't wear out but it's easy to loose a few. You can buy them from places like Midway or from the SSM folks that advertise at the top of the page. If you deprime the cases before tumbling this method will clean the primer pockets and it aids in drying.
    A favorite formula to use is LemiShine and Dawn. You can substitute an automotive wash and wax for the Dawn and have a protective coating on the brass.
    About 1-1/2 hours will clean once fired brass and 4 hours will clean even the worst looking brass.
    The hardness of your water will determine the amount of LemiShine needed but a 9mm case full is a good place to start, and about a table spoon of wash and wax.
    You'll have to experiment with drying methods because some types of water leaves spots worse than others.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie17 View Post
    My Frankford Arsnel Rotary Tumbler has been running strong for 3 years with over 50,000 cases processed. Still using the included SS pins included, I don’t think they will wear out. Will loose them faster!
    My 2 cents. Also sits on a very small foot print.
    Same here. 3yr and a truck load of brass processed. Bought the bigger pins from orloso here on the site. Got tired of the death dust and dull brass from my vibratory units. Just have to plan ahead a bit more with the pins. extra time to deprime and drying time.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Beware tumbling military 5.56. They have a thicker web at the base and pins get stuck crosswise over the flash hole. I bought a 5 gal bucket of mixed from a local range I trust, and roundup bending 6 Lee decapper pins before discovering the cases with SS pins stuck in them.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Eddie17's Avatar
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    Have not had this problem myself!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Another Frankford arsenal user that is very happy. Two or three years and probably about 40K rounds. Still on the original pins and the are still workin great.
    My isotope lead page: http://fellingfamily.net/isolead/

  13. #13
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    Just bought the Lyman unit as it was on sale and had an additional % off coupon. Just over $120 for me to give it a whirl. I have some old dusty 30-06 casings in there now

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I love my Frankford Arsenal Planetary Tumbler. It comes with 5lb pins, separators that mount in tumbler & sample cleaning solution. I bought another 5lbs pins, I use 1/4tsp citric acid and 2 drops Dawn. Some people use concentrated car wash with wax, I'm about to try that myself. If the brass is very dirty I tumble for an hour and replace the cleaning solution. After the tumbling is done, I pour off the solution then I put the separator on one side and dump the pins into a 2.5gal pail. I shake as much water/pins out and Refill barrel with water & add a high strength magnet. I tumble for a few minutes to rinse and catch any left over pins. I pour off the water and pull out the magnet & pins. I shake the tumbler dry into the bucket with the separator then add a few dry strips of car chamois I tumble for a few minutes and the brass is pretty much dry. Dump out on brass onto a terry cloth towel and let air dry. I also suggest the F/A magnet to pick up the pins. Good luck, Jay

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler here (FART!). Still using the SS pins that came with it, I use a squirt of dawn + lemishine for my mix. I spin it in a dillon media separator full of water to get the suds out and pins. I've just started using the oven to drive them to avoid waiting, I towel dry first then pop them in the oven for a quick heat/dry.

    Transitioned the old tumbler with walnut media to my "preclean" cycle. Once through that, then deprime, and off to the SS pins. Working on getting 100% reliable function on my 380 so I'm going a bit slower and cleaning more thoroughly.
    My feedback page if you feel inclined to add:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...raight-Shooter

    Thanks Yall!

  16. #16
    Boolit Man varmintpopper's Avatar
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    This is My home made pin tumbler. 25 Lbs of SS pins 3 to 4 Thousand 9mm cases. About 1-1/2 hours of run time makes cases look like jewlery inside and out. (cases sized and primer punched before tumbleing)
    Expensive to build but worth the effort. 5 Gal. bucket slides in and out of a five gallon bucket. The bucket has a water tight screw-on lid.
    Good Shooting
    Lindy





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  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    I bought one of the Frankford Arsenal units about a year ago and I really like the results I get from it. Using it is more work than using a vibrating tumbler but the cases being clean inside and out with clean primer pockets is worth it to me.
    Chuck

  18. #18
    Boolit Master rototerrier's Avatar
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    Another vote for the FART. 2 years and not a single issue. Clean and Purdy brass. Having clean primer pockets is the nicest thing. Primers all seat consistently.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie17 View Post
    My Frankford Arsnel Rotary Tumbler has been running strong for 3 years with over 50,000 cases processed. Still using the included SS pins included, I don’t think they will wear out. Will loose them faster!
    My 2 cents. Also sits on a very small foot print.
    Same one I purchased last month. They include 5 pounds of stainless pins with it. I found mine for $156 shipped on Ebay NIB.
    Tennessee

  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    I still use the Thumblers Tumbler bought in the "70s and pins from STM. At one period I bought an additional STM unit due to volume processing.
    I always De-prime first, to avoid Berdan primers, and nested cases. 1/2-1 ts of Citric acid and two drops of dawn cleans even the worst brass. separating under water rids the brass of pins. Use a magnet to collect any errant pins.
    A turn in CC yields brilliant brass inside and out without dangerous dust. Polished brass is easier to size with less wear and tear on your dies. It also makes inspecting easy.
    Information not shared. is wasted.

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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