Stainless Steel tumbling advice - what cleaner to add?

Sauer_202_6.5x55

Well-Known Member
I've just ordered a stainless wet tumbler kit.

Having read up online as to what people add to their 'mixes' lemi shine seems to be favourite but it's not easily available in the UK from what I can see.

Is there a easily available alternative?
 

Vipa

Well-Known Member
I've just ordered a stainless wet tumbler kit.

Having read up online as to what people add to their 'mixes' lemi shine seems to be favourite but it's not easily available in the UK from what I can see.

Is there a easily available alternative?
Lemishine is just citric acid with lemon oil to make it smell nice.. you can buy citric acid granules easily... try ebay.... http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Classikool-1kg-Citric-Acid-Anhydrous-Food-Grade-Home-Bath-Bombs-Descaler-etc-/371569428355?hash=item5683438783:g:Ta4AAOSwAuNW3WxN

For best results.... (and I have tried lots).... de-cap and put brass and pins in drum.. no more than 100 .308 size, preferably less... 70 is a good number.. many more and you wont get as good results.

Fill drum to an inch from the top with hot tap water (not boiling) just hot tap water. 3 healthy squirts of Fairy original (you don't want any fancy stuff as it will contain other stuff that will coat the brass) and a heaped teaspoon of citric acid crystals.

Fasten lid and run overnight or, if you don't fancy running it overnight, run for a good 6 hours.

Because you used hot water, a vacuum will have been created meaning the lid may need prying off with the rounded handle of a spoon etc,

drain the (by now) filthy water but leave the brass and pins in the drum.. run like warm water into the drum and let it overflow in the sink whilst agitating the pins and brass with your hand until all traces of detergent have gone. make sure you dig down and get right to the bottom.

This is the important bit.. with the drum full of water turn each case upside down and the pins will flow out like water.. If you don't do it this way as soon as you take the case out of the water, surface tension will take over and you will get pins stuck inside the cases.. Then lay them on a tea towel to get the thick of the water off.. quick visual inspection to make sure there are no pins inside. If you followed my instructions it is extremely unlikely but you should always check.

All that is left is to dry them... You could leave them on a windowsill for a day or 2 or put them in the oven on it's lowest setting for 20 mins or so but neither is ideal... do yourself a favour and invest in one of these... http://www.lakeland.co.uk/14210/My-Kitchen-Food-Dehydrator it will take a couple of hundred cases, will dry them in an hour inside and out and with no risk of overheating them or tarnishing the brass. Best thing I bought!! plus, you can use it to make Venison Jerky too!!!!
 
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Sauer90

Well-Known Member
Citric acid is only there to neutralize the limescale, does no cleaning by itself. Household washing detergent or a half cheapo dishwasher tab will be fine.
 

Vipa

Well-Known Member
Citric acid is only there to neutralize the limescale, does no cleaning by itself. Household washing detergent or a half cheapo dishwasher tab will be fine.
lots of other nasty chemicals in dishwasher tabs! And the citric acid does make a huge difference... fairy plus lemishine vs fairy alone make for much shinier, cleaner looking brass
 
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Vipa

Well-Known Member
I only run my cases in the wet tumbler for about an hour - seem to get good results.

Stainless steel tumbling - YouTube
Probably all it needs with only a handful of cases... the more cases, the longer they need.. I found that with 100 cases in there, 4 hours (which is what they recommend) wasn't quite enough so I just set it up at bed time and leave it running overnight... nice shiny brass when I get up in the morning!
 

bradaz11

Member
4 hours!!
what tumbler do you use?

I use a 5kg hexagonal drum tumbler, with hot tap water, teaspoon of citric acid and a squirt of fairy. full load of 44mag, 303, 357, 9mm, or 7.5 swiss (never mix calibres, 9mm stuck in 44mag with pins around it is a b'stard) has never needed an hour to be perfect. usually run it for 20mins, sample, then run another 20 if they weren't quite there
 

mchughcb

Well-Known Member
Vipa is on the money. I don't get much scale so I don't use lemi shine. But something I have noticed. If you put your brass in without depriming. Then clean and dry in oven I found I don't need to neck lube before depriming. Downside is I repeat process to clean pockets. Means they get 2x2hrs or four all up. So I do a big batch at a time. Don't mix 223 and 9.3x74r either, they'll get stuck in each other.
 

1066

Well-Known Member
Citric acid is only there to neutralize the limescale, does no cleaning by itself. Household washing detergent or a half cheapo dishwasher tab will be fine.
Are you saying that if I use a citric acid solution with distilled/de-ionised/de-mineralised water no cleaning action will take place?
 

Sauer90

Well-Known Member
Sheesh, what do you think does the cleaning?

I'll give you a clue - It is the Stainless Steel Pins - a mechanical abrasive process.
No detergent really needed, just speeds up the process, no citric needed it just neutralizes the lime-scale no white stains when dry.

Some guys just cannot see the wood for the trees...
 

1066

Well-Known Member
Sheesh, what do you think does the cleaning?

I'll give you a clue - It is the Stainless Steel Pins - a mechanical abrasive process.
No detergent really needed, just speeds up the process, no citric needed it just neutralizes the lime-scale no white stains when dry.

Some guys just cannot see the wood for the trees...
Sheesh - Need to do some homework I reckon.

Cartridge dipped in citric acid solution without a stainless pin is sight.

 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
Sheesh, what do you think does the cleaning?

I'll give you a clue - It is the Stainless Steel Pins - a mechanical abrasive process.
No detergent really needed, just speeds up the process, no citric needed it just neutralizes the lime-scale no white stains when dry.

Some guys just cannot see the wood for the trees...
Where do you get the idea that citric acid does not act like any of the other pickling acids in removing the tarnish/oxides from the brass?

I always use it in preference to vinegar because it does not seem to darken after rinsing in a soda Bicarb solution.

I find citric acid needs to be at higher temperature to work as effectively as vinegar, which is active at room temperature.

I was curious about your claim so I laid a case in a dish of water which came half way up with a third of teaspoon of citric acid. It was warm to start off with but after I pulled it out 30 minutes later it was cold so the active time is likely to have been ten minutes or so...clearly defined area where the tarnish was removed.

...Ha! just see the post by 1066.Great minds think alike (or fools seldom differ) My photo is not as clear so I won't bother to put it up.

Alan
 
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mchughcb

Well-Known Member
The pins are more about lifting the carbon off through necks and primer pockets not about making the brass shiny.
 

Sauer90

Well-Known Member
What a mutt, pins DO make the brass shiny.

I guess you 'great minds' know it all, a teaspoon of citric in a gallon of water is all we need eh? Should not have paid for the pins then.
 
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mchughcb

Well-Known Member
Not sure what you are trying to say. I'm trying to say, of course the pins make it shiny through abrasion but i'm interested in clean primer pockets and neck heads which removes the need for a primer pocket cleaner, messy graphite lube in the neck. I've done a few tests just with detergent and brass alone and you will find if you leave it in there for a few hours it will also provide nice shiny walls but doesn't clean the primer pockets or inside the necks.
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
What a mutt, pins DO make the brass shiny.

I guess you 'great minds' know it all, a teaspoon of citric in a gallon of water is all we need eh? Should not have paid for the pins then.
No need to be snarky. I think it is just in the way the various materials interact that I disagree with you.

The citric acid removes some of the tarnish. From the tumbling that I have done with silver as a jeweller and the steel rumbling with various media I have done as a blacksmith I just think that your claims that the citric acid only neutralises limescale and that the stainless pins have a mechanical abrasive action are wrong.

I think the citric acid removes the tarnish.

The soap acts as lubricant and wetting agent.

The hard media has a burnishing rather than the abrasive (cutting) action that you describe. i.e. I don't think it removes any metal it just smooths the surface to make it shiny.

I used offcuts of silver in my jewellery tumbler and ceramic chips and offcuts of steel in my big rumbler. You can buy abrasive soaps from the polishing supplies places, I used to get mine from Cannings, if you want to cut rather than burnish the surface.

Having said that I don't tumble my cartridge cases, I just use a sprinkle of citric acid and a splash of washing up liquid in a honey jar per twenty cases and zap them in the Ultra sonic cleaner @ around 70˚ for 15-20 minutes.

If I was going to tumble my cartridge cases to get the outsides shiny I would start by trying my bucketful of .22LR cases as the hard media. Probably snipping them in half with tin snips.

Alan
 
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Alantoo

Well-Known Member
Hi Alan, how do you clean primer pockets and necks?
They come out squeaky clean from the ultrasonic. These are now 4 x fired and were cleaned about 6 weeks ago and resized and trimmed last week. They have been out in the atmosphere on the wood block so there will be a bit of dulling/tarnishing since the cleaning. When you look down inside the case they are equally brassy.

You can see a few bits of swarf inside the neck from the trimming, I will pop them back in the US to wash those out before I load them.

Alan

Primer pocket.jpg
 

Dorsettaff

Well-Known Member
I use the powdered citric acid/detergent method with stainless steel pins.

Hot water..run for 45-90 minutes and wash/rinse/dry as described.

With regard to the citric acid, the acid helps clean the metal...remember the old penny in tomato sauce, vinegar, coca cola trick? Yep...same principle. Whilst it may well help with removal of lime scale (acid dissolution of calcium carbonate deposits) it is the acid action on the metal that increases the cleaning as 1066 has so clearly shown.
 

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