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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is with regard to 223 cases exclusively - just so you'll know.

I've tried pin tumbling, dry media tumbling, and ultrasonic cleaning.

I started with US. It takes about 30 minutes cleaning time, and it did NOT give that nice shiney look, and the cases have to be rinsed and dried. The rinsing isn't a big deal, but the drying part can be. If allowed to "air" dry, we could be talking about 24 hours or more, depending....

Then I went to wet pin tumbling. It takes about 3-4 hours. The time aside (for the moment), to me, the pin tumbling process is a real pain. It does a great job cleaning but there are so many steps. Case and pin separation, then each case has to be "processed" by hand to be sure pins are not inadvertently left in a case(s), and again, they have to be dried - same as US drying time.

It became such a pain to deal with, I went to dry media using lizard bedding media. Dry media takes 4-6 hours but it does give that nice shiney look until the media gets dirty. And ARs produces extra dirty cases, so my media was requiring longer and longer times. But I could deal with that, but over time, I have discovered dry media in cases I'm working with. I size my brass then use a Frankford Arsenal case preps center to prep the cases. The first step is to trim the case, then I chamber the outside, and then the inside, and then run the case over a spinning 22 cal brush. This whole process takes less than 10 seconds - unless the brush starts pulling dry media out of the cases. I have been quite surprised how many cases have media hiding in them and how much media the brush pulls out. And, I'll say this right here, I've tried blowing the media out with canned air - that does NOT work. Numerous times I've blown out a case and then put it on the rotating brush only to find it takes about 10 strokes over the brush before the media stops coming out. Enough of that!

So this morning, I looked at cases that came out of a vibrator and cases that came out of a tumbler (dry media). They had tumbled for about 5 hours - I couldn't tell if they had been cleaned! That's when I thought, US does that good and I don't have to worry about media. Sooo...

I'm back to US cleaning. I clean the cases from 30 minutes to an hour and rinse them. Easy! To deal with the drying, I first tumble the cases in a tumbler I made from a large, thin plastic protein jug -



it works great. In about 5 minutes the water stops coming out so I know the cases don't have much water left in them. Then they go into a hot air cooker at 222° for 40 minutes. So in about an hour and 15 minutes, I have clean cases ready to go and don't have to worry about pins or media in them.
 

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Hats off to reloaders.

One thing I've learned from reloading threads is that reloading is not for me. I think it requires an attention to detail that only is possible if one really enjoys the process. Reloading is not something that appeals to me, but at least I'm smart enough to know that I shouldn't reload if my only objective is to save a few bucks.

Although I don't often respond to the reloading threads, I enjoy reading them, especially the ones where people discuss how they fine tune their own loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So basically you just have to get used to the cases not looking brand new, while knowing that they are indeed clean. I think that I could do that.
Yeah, I do miss that sparkly clean look, but it's just too much time and effort for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As long as it's clean on the inside.
Yep. I'm kinda suspicious that US cleans the inside better than dry media since it vibrates the case inside and out. I can't see that there would be much cleaning with dry media inside a case - just not enough motion of the media inside???
 

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I like my ultra sonic cleaner but don’t like using it for brass. All my brass gets dry tumbled. Ultrasonic is too much of a pain for me when it comes to brass. I’m limited to smaller batches, have to keep resetting the timer, and have to let it dry out after. Dumping in the tumbler and coming back in a few hours and having several hundred pieces of brass ready to load is too easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like my ultra sonic cleaner but don’t like using it for brass. All my brass gets dry tumbled. Ultrasonic is too much of a pain for me when it comes to brass. I’m limited to smaller batches, have to keep resetting the timer, and have to let it dry out after. Dumping in the tumbler and coming back in a few hours and having several hundred pieces of brass ready to load is too easy.
That's why I went to it until I started finding media in cases. I typically take each case and hold it upside down against the side of the vibrator to vibrate the media out - that's not a sure thing. I've tried blowing the media out with canned air, that's not a sure thing. I've done both and the brush still pulls media out of the cases and sometimes a LOT of media - even after vibrating and blowing. Not to mention the canned air blowing, blows media everywhere.
 

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Yep. I'm kinda suspicious that US cleans the inside better than dry media since it vibrates the case inside and out. I can't see that there would be much cleaning with dry media inside a case - just not enough motion of the media inside???
I'm more thinking of the difficulty that you have had getting the media out of the case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm more thinking of the difficulty that you have had getting the media out of the case.
The possibility of media in the cases really bothered me. It makes me wonder how many reloads I shot with media in the cases before I started cleaning the insides with a 22 cal brush.
 

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That's why I went to it until I started finding media in cases. I typically take each case and hold it upside down against the side of the vibrator to vibrate the media out - that's not a sure thing. I've tried blowing the media out with canned air, that's not a sure thing. I've done both and the brush still pulls media out of the cases and sometimes a LOT of media - even after vibrating and blowing. Not to mention the canned air blowing, blows media everywhere.
Are you putting something in the media that’s causing it to clump up? It shouldn’t be a problem otherwise. What are you using for media?
 

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I think it requires an attention to detail that only is possible if one really enjoys the process.
And that's a real truism. I hear so many say they want to reload for the savings but really have no concept of the time it takes. It is not for everyone. It can be TEDIOUS! But I enjoy the process and take a lot of time that many others will not.

I worked with US cleaners overhauling scuba gear and don't want to bother with it anymore. Dry media tumbling has worked for "me" and I don't plan on changing at this point. I actually tumble my rifle cases twice. Like Tangle said, ARs are dirty, so all my cases get deprimed and tumbled in plain ground walnut media for a half hour or so to get the powder reside and grit off for annealing & resizing. After resizing, they get a second tumbling in walnut media with a few drops of Nufinish polish added. I don't go for the "shine" unless I forget the tumbler is running and it goes all night. :rolleyes: The Nufinish helps give the cases a slicker finish which should help with feeding and tarnish prevention.

I toss my media fairly quickly, especially the final Nufinish batch. It darkens quicker, and the plain media on the first round is just to get the soot off and polishing is not a concern so much. I did have one occasion where I could not seat a primer and found the primer pocket packed with a glob of media, but that was a one-time event (so far) and can be blamed on too much Nufinish and not enough mixing time--in other words, that was on me. The 12-pound bag of media I bought several years ago has about a third left, cost me about $12-$15, so I'm not too concerned about dumping it. I haven't noticed any media residue coming out of my cases as it tends to pour out like fine sand. A tap or two on the bench, run a brush through the mouth and it's ready to go.
 
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Most of my reloading has been straight wall pistol cases so media clogging was never an issue. Bottleneck cases are different, and the smaller the caliber the more likely to have crap in them.

Even so wet cleaning of any sort just seems like a PITA so I'll stick with dry media.
 

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If you figure your time plus the time it takes in the media and the following clean up or drying, at 25 cents an hour, how much money are you really saving?

Note: That question is mostly for @Tangle who loves to spend hours figuring things out! :)😉🤓

On a slightly more serious note: Gramps reloaded for decades and that little old walnut shell filled tumbler ran for hours and hours out in the garage. He never reloaded rifle ammo and I do know that is a different story in a lot of ways.
 
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I have tried US, and now mostly use it for parts cleaning and old guns that have not been cleaned for a long time. Nothing gets dried oil out of cracks and creases like US. It even removes old oil and debris from the lettering and serial numbers of hard to read old guns. But it did not get my brass clean enough.
I wet tumble. I try to process brass when I can do large batches at a time. [ a two gallon bucket or so at a time]. That way I'm not waiting for it to dry, while this batch is drying, I'm still using some of the last batch.
I only have a couple rifles that are precise enough that I keep their brass separate . And only reload those cases that have been previously been shot from that gun. My AR doesn't care. It only works best with ammo loaded to minimum size. If I tried to neck size only it would choke!
But I like how clean wet tumbling gets the cases, and have even dry polished some cases after wet tumbling to get a high polish on some special cases for a friends retirement gun. I ran two stages of dry media. Lizzard bedding and treated corn cob. I put the final polish on them after they had been resized, trimmed, and flared. that way I only had to seat primers and seat bullets after the polish. But they shined like gold! DR
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Are you putting something in the media that’s causing it to clump up? It shouldn’t be a problem otherwise. What are you using for media?
I used to put a bit of NuFinish in but I quit to see if that was causing the problem. It still happens???

I use walnut lizard bedding.

It would be really odd if I'm the only one this has happened to. I can't help but wonder how many have this problem and don't know it.

It is possible that many are like I was, I had no idea I had media residue in my cases until I started cleaning the inside with a rotating brush.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Most of my reloading has been straight wall pistol cases so media clogging was never an issue. Bottleneck cases are different, and the smaller the caliber the more likely to have crap in them.

Even so wet cleaning of any sort just seems like a PITA so I'll stick with dry media.
It's not clogging at all, it's just media sticking to the inside walls of the cases. I've stuck many a small tubes of canned air nozzles into cases and pull the trigger and get nothing, then the brush starts to pull out a bunch of stuff.

It depends on what kind of wet cleaning. US cleaning is wet but it only takes 15-30 minutes to clean 100 223 cases. For the same case count in dry media, each case has to be handled individually to be sure all the dry media is out. For the US, you simply rinse them all at once, about 3 minutes, tumble them for about 3 minutes and then stick them in a drier or just let them air dry.

I've done both, US is simpler and quicker.
 

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If you figure your time plus the time it takes in the media and the following clean up or drying, at 25 cents an hour, how much money are you really saving?

Note: That question is mostly for @Tangle who loves to spend hours figuring things out! :)😉🤓

On a slightly more serious note: Gramps reloaded for decades and that little old walnut shell filled tumbler ran for hours and hours out in the garage. He never reloaded rifle ammo and I do know that is a different story in a lot of ways.
The question of how much you save has a lot to do with what you shoot!
If I were mostly shooting 9mm and 223 not much. But if you shoot less popular calibers the savings goes way up! 45-70 rounds cost $65 for a 20 round box, but only cost a little more than 45 acp to reload! the 45-70 uses a heavier bullet and 3 times the powder but I can still load 50 of them for less than $20!
Moms gun shot 32 S&W, another one that they charge a fortune for but I can reload for about the same as a box of 9mm.
And then I also like my time in the shop watching the tumbler spin! DR
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If you figure your time plus the time it takes in the media and the following clean up or drying, at 25 cents an hour, how much money are you really saving?

Note: That question is mostly for @Tangle who loves to spend hours figuring things out! :)😉🤓

On a slightly more serious note: Gramps reloaded for decades and that little old walnut shell filled tumbler ran for hours and hours out in the garage. He never reloaded rifle ammo and I do know that is a different story in a lot of ways.
Well, the actual time cleaning is free except for the electricity used because your time is not tied up for hours. The time consuming part of dry media or wet tumbling is the media-case separation, handling each case individually to be sure all the media is out, and then for wet cleaning, the drying process.

But, I'm going with US because I don't have to mess with or buy media, don't have to separate media from cases, and don't have to handle each case individually. For example, if I have 150 cases, I would have to go through each one to clear out the media, so I'd be handling 150 cases, 150 times - even more if I drop some 😉

I can get up at 6:00 in the morning and discover I don't have any clean cases, dump 100 in the US for 30 minutes. Then rinse and tumble in my homemade tumbler, then dry for 40 minutes. By 7:30 I'm ready to load the cases.
 

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It's not clogging at all, it's just media sticking to the inside walls of the cases. I've stuck many a small tubes of canned air nozzles into cases and pull the trigger and get nothing, then the brush starts to pull out a bunch of stuff.

It depends on what kind of wet cleaning. US cleaning is wet but it only takes 15-30 minutes to clean 100 223 cases. For the same case count in dry media, each case has to be handled individually to be sure all the dry media is out. For the US, you simply rinse them all at once, about 3 minutes, tumble them for about 3 minutes and then stick them in a drier or just let them air dry.

I've done both, US is simpler and quicker.

I wonder if the dry media is building up a static charge that holds some media? I have seen some cut up dryer sheets to put in there dry media. They cut them in 1/2" squares. Might be worth a try. DR
 
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