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Thread: SS Pin tumbling question -- blue stains?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    georgerkahn's Avatar
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    SS Pin tumbling question -- blue stains?

    Hope you may provide an answer: I've been using a hi-speed Thumler's Tumbler with 1 tablespoon of Dawn + 2 tablespoons of Armor-All Wash & Wax + 1/2 teaspoon Lem-N-Shine and a short half-gallon of Wal*Mart's distilled water to tumble clean 101 military .30-'06 deprimed cases, with my timer set at four hours.
    I always have gotten to my tumbler within a quarter-hour or so of completion, when I add/rinse about three gallons of tap water to tumbler. I then put the now-sparking brass on trays in a Fulton brass dryer, with that timer set for an hour, after which I put 50-each in two bags. I'm happy.
    HOWEVER -- with the ambient air temperature in my garage hovering at 100+ degrees yesterday afternoon, I just left the then-tumbled batch in the tumber, reckoning it would be cooler out and I'd "process them" (put in dryer) this morning. After a bit of garden work (7AM) I got the Tumbler out, and noted 16 of the 101 cases had really gross staining on them: a bluish color, some for roughly 3/8" from base; others in a case side; and a couple where the tip was stained. Perhaps another 20 to 25 just didn't look sparkly clean.
    I ended up making a new cleaning solution after rinsing these -- timer will time out in another 3 1/2 hours... AND, here's my questions:
    1/ Have you ever experienced similar?
    2/ Is the staining from the brass sitting in the dirty solution for about 18 hours?
    3/ I'm hoping when this 2nd cleaning ends, the brass will be as I hoped, and, the several thousand cases in previous sessions; regardless, any "light" you may provide re this surely will be appreciated!
    Thanks!
    geo

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Soak at the end is bad, stuff seems to stain the brass, as you’ve seen.

    There has been talk online about extended exposure to the acidic solution pulling zinc out of the brass, weakening it. I have not seen anything approaching an effort to really evaluate this process, and all you’ve done is the equivalent of 5 or 6 tumbling sessions, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    I doubt it’ll take 4 hours to remove the staining, I’d check them now.

    I’ve stopped using Dawn, just the wash ‘n wax, fwiw.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master


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    What stands out for me is your use of both Dawn and Wash'n'Wax together. I advise using one or the other. I use both, but sequentially, Dawn first, rinse, then Wash'n'Wax for the micro wax coating. I've never observed a bluish stain.

    The small fraction of stained cases you had and the partial coverage makes me ask if those cases could have been exposed to the air overnight? Perhaps the combination of the two cleaning agents plus air exposure caused your problem. Easy to find out - tumble a few as before, then place in the open without the rinse/dry steps.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Thank you, JimB.. -- I never experienced this before. Only 75 minutes to go - -- as much as I dread the 101* F outside temp now, I do plan on venturing out when the timer stops. I'm already thinking on a "Plan 'B'", using garden hose while sitting on shady porch step instead of rinsing in the sun. I just read that folks with kitty cats endanger severe brass weakening from the cat-urine in air -- something I had never heard of -- and RCBS even has a warning re this in their die usage instructions! Hence, I did get a tad concerned -- the colour change surely must be from some sort of chemical reaction!
    I am certainly no "chemist", and the formula I have been using is from reading what others on this site profess works for them. My only justification, perhaps, for employing the Dawn, is this product removed petroleum (e.g., grease and oil) residue. Most automotive cleaning products -- including the Armor-All Wash & Wax are much, much gentler to petro -- to not hurt automotive seal-coat or paint finishes. And, it provides enough wax (so others have written) to put a microscopic coating on the brass to keep it from oxidizing as quickly as tumbling sans this product. The "no more than 1/2 teaspoon" I have read re Lem-N-Shine is also to keep (citris) acid from hurting the brass's structure/composition. Life is indeed a learning curve, and generally I feel I am very near its bottom . Thanks!
    geo

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    I think your stains are probably from being left in the dirty water.
    I have a couple of suggestions that may help you in other ways. Skip the Dawn and just use the wash and wax. I buy the 64oz size and use the cap as a measure. I use one cap full. I also use less LemiShine, about a 9mm case full. I also tumble for 2 hours and this gets all but the worst brass clean. You want to have suds left in the drum on completion, so adjust the wash and wax accordingly. The amount of LemiShine needed depends on your water, but a 9mm case seems to be about what most use. I use tap water, although distilled is probably better, and add enough to cover the brass about an inch. This should cut a little expense for you and speed up the process some. I hear you on the heat! Its miserable here too!

  6. #6
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    Blue Stain is probably slight amount of copper being taken out of the brass due to the Acidic nature of the Bath and a Galvanic Reaction. Same thing happens when using a vinegar and water solution to clean brass. Can you cut back on the time for the cycle; this would reduce the time for the Acid to work on the brass.
    Mustang

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  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I use McGuiars Wash & Wax and lemi-shine in hot tap water. SS pins are used as required, but not always. Wash time depends on how dirty/stained the brass is - 1 to 2 hours at most. A quick rinse with fresh tap water, not too long, as I want the wax to remain on the brass.

    Works good for me.
    It ain't rocket science, it's boolit science.

  8. #8
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    I agree with Nueces. Sounds to me like you are pulling copper out. Not dangerous but it does stain the brass
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  9. #9
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    Much thanks to ALL! It is indeed comforting that there are ever so many knowledgeable and informative persons on this site! Again, my sincere appreciation to all! Well (drum roll here) I ventured out in the 101* heat to garage, and the brass now looks as good as previous batches! Lessons learned? I lost five hours or so of my time; but, no harm, no foul. The staining really rang alarm bells re safety questions in future loading of the brass. Most is headstamped Lake City 67 with a few L C 69's mixed in. All, once fired, which required use of the Dillon swage tool, too. I took a couple of pictures of my "tumbling bench", as well as one of the completed brass -- with one yet-to-be-tumbled atop them, for your reference. The distilled water at Wally World runs eighty-eight cents a gallon, with no sales tax added, so I can afford it -- three loads per gallon. I'm about 2/3rds used in present Armor All bottle -- I may very well seek out and try the McGuire brand for next round. I still have a couple of thousand (plus) '06s to do....
    geo
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  10. #10
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    Brass doesn't like water , left in contact the corrosion starts . Noticed this with brass picked up from the grass at range...those exposed to the dew started corroding in a few hours .

    The water and corrosion thing is the main reason I went back to dry media , rouge treated walnut shell media, it doesn't promote the mean greenies and I don't have to bother with the extra drying step.
    Gary
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I didn’t think of it before, but if you’re using distilled water I’d suggest cutting back on the lemishine. When you use tap water there is generally some buffering of the pH from calcium in the water, since youkve got none the solution probably gets more acidic than typical.

    As a general suggestion, run your next batch with no dawn, half the wash n wax, and half the lemishine and only run it two hours. Decide if you’re happy with it, if not then adjust the next batch. I have cleaned military .556 that was so dirty that I changed the water at 30 min simply because there were no suds.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub
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    The one and only time I had brass staining was when I shut off the tumbler and let the brass sit in the dirty solution.Your problem isn't the cleaning solution,it's letting the brass sit in the dirty water.

  13. #13
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    Thanks again JimB.. and 25ring! 7AM tomorrow I start my next batch of 101, so I'll try your suggestions re cutting down on cleaners, limishine, and time -- all three, I surely can live with !. 25ring hit the nail on the head as I empirically discovered, not having the energy to go out in 99* temps (that A/C in house is nice!) yesterday when the tumbler timed out, reckoning -- wrongly -- that, "how can a bit of Dawn and Arm. Wash & Wax hurt anything?". A lesson learned, I have zero plans to leave tumbled brass in water even a few seconds longer than necessary after the tumbler stops in the future!!!
    I WILL try the shortened time and chems. Interestingly, what I know about chemistry could readily fit in a thimble which had been run over by a steam-roller, but albeit it is labeled as "Distilled Water", I believe the eighty-eight cent gallons Wally World purveys are really condensed water -- not that may or may not make a (chemical) difference. The obvious one is the 1/3rd cost of the USP grade sold at local pharmacies...
    Thanks again!
    geo

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I've left mine in overnight after tumbling with no ill effects, not wanting to sort in the dark. I have had steel get mixed up in the brass. That will leave stains. I have also had case lube to stain brass when using pins with armorall and citric acid. I don't tumble for more than two hours. I also fill the tumbler almost to the top with tap water.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    A friend's into Paper Marbling, and he says that distilled water often has stuff added to it (almost 2am so I'm sorry but I can't call him to ask what.) I have a water still so I make him REAL distilled water fairly often, it doesn't mess up his art work. Wish I remembered what they added but just not able to at 2am - Sorry!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    JimB.. -- I did another 101 case load this morning, and took some of your advice. I used NO Dawn; one tablespoon of Armor All Wash & Wax, but dropped in the full 1/2 teaspoon of LemiShine before electing to cut back on it. BG&BG (By Gum and By Golly) I'm impressed!!! The brass was from same batches as my previous cleanings, this session, so that was/is a constant. To my 70-year old eyes, the brass cleaned two hours with your formula looks every bit as clean as my earlier efforts. I can't thank you enough -- I now can same results using less chemicals in half the time! I took a photo of today's effortd, so you may see the results yourself.
    geo
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Happy to help!

    I need to get a dehydrator.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I bought mine -- a Frankfort Arsenal Platinum Dryer -- on impulse. MidwayUSA purveys it for about fifty-five U S dollars, and another vendor -- either Buffalo or Graf -- I don't remember which -- had one on sale for fifteen dollars less. I snapped on the deal! I was a tad disappointed at first, for two reasons: the plastic seems pretty thin and flimsy; and, while it has an adjustable heat control knob on top, they do not have a means to just run the fan. Re the former, I've gotten in the habit of picking loaded trays by their edges, with ZERO damage. Vis the latter, I did a bit of surgery on their circuitry, so I can now run it on fan only -- r.g, no heat. Like my tumblers, I have it plugged into countdown timers. They (Frankfort) recommend one hour on high heat, with a stop halfway through to reverse trays -- what was top will now be the bottom tray, etc. MY method first entails tapping each case on a stainless steel plate I have nearby to expel any excess water -- most important on .22-250, .30-'06, and all other bottleneck cases -- and run it on hight heat for the full hour. I then turn off the heat, and just run fan only for another 1/2-hour. Even when it's damp out, this seems to sufficiently dry my cases. I used to endeavor to put brass on a towel on a window screen in the sun, but it not only seems more work than using the dryer, but we have too few days where it really would be conducive. I'm happy with it, and if it breaks or otherwise "dies" - I surely will be, a.s.a.p., in the market for a replacement.
    geo

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Most of my shooting is pistol, and I tumble maybe 20lbs of brass at a time, so have been shaking it dry in a towel and then pouring on another towel and spreading it out to dry overnight under a fan in the garage. Works reasonably well for pistol brass, but those bottleneck rifle cartridges could use some assistance.

  20. #20
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    20-30 minutes in a 170F oven dries my pistol or rifle brass (after shaking in a rolled towel). Then on the counter overnight.

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