lyman tumbler
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Lyman Products pinged TTAG and mentioned that one of the most common customer questions they receive is what case cleaning technique is best. Well, there are pros and cons with each, all of which Lyman explains (though they sure can’t pronounce “pecan”) in the following video:

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38 COMMENTS

    • Walnut is a very good and ‘kind’ cleaning media, but ‘Black Beauty’ refractory ‘slag’ is hard to beat for raw speed… 🙂

  1. Northerners don’t know how to pronounce “pe-CAHN”. But that doesn’t make them bad people.

    Oh, on topic, I’m fairly happy with corncob in a Franklin or Dillon vibratory cleaner.

    • My family is a blend of old-south (mothers side) and yankee (fathers). One night around the dinner table there was a conversation about how you pronounce “cement”; whether its suh-MENT or SEE-ment. Much argument on both sides. Finally we turned to the patriarch, my maternal grandfather. He’s a man of few words, and what he says goes. After he turned on his hearing aid, we asked him (not wanting to bias his opinion one way or t’other): “Grandpa Boo, how do you pronounce the material that they make sidewalks out of?”. He thinks for a second, looks at us like we’re idiots, and says “Concrete” and turns off his hearing aid. And that settled that argument.

  2. don’t buy treated. just tumble longer. i tumble in DRY corn cob for 6-8 hours (overnight or while at work) and its polished.
    don’t buy treated. you can just buy spray additive, like orange clean if you don’t have time for a long tumble.
    YOU CAN WASH CORN COB. i have been doing this for years and have never needed to buy more corn cob. just throw it in a pillow case, tie a knot in it and throw it in the washing machine. when it comes out, spread it on a cookie sheet and throw in the oven for about 20 mins on 375 or so.
    its RIDICULOUS how much they charge for treated media these days. i have been using the same bag of untreated corn cob that came with my tumbler, 5 years ago. once i figured out if i tumble over night or while at work it polishes, i quite buying the polish.
    saving money at every turn!

    • Good info, thanks.

      I only reload .38/357 and 9mm, so I don’t bother cleaning brass, but I I get in to necked cases, I might start to care more.

  3. I use white rice that I bake in the oven. Throw that in my lyman vibratory cleaner and everything comes out shiny. Best of all rice is as cheap as dirt.

  4. Rotary or nothing. I’ve become a convert. The stainless steel pins are reusable, seemingly forever unless you manage to lose them. A tiny dash of cleaner and a few hours run time. Empty the tumbler and you’ve got brass that could put some factory brass to shame. Primer pockets even get cleaned if you decapped (which you should to help get the water out).

  5. Next batch of tumbling I do will probably be with lizard litter which is supposedly cheap and works well.

    I do want an ultrasonic for gun cleaning though as well.

  6. Walnut media pre-treated with brass polish in a rotary tumbler. When the media stops working, you can refresh it with more polish. However, the stuff lasts so long that I just replace it with new media. Tumbling for an hour or two is adequate.

  7. Quote the Yankee: though they sure can’t pronounce “pecan”

    Every traditional pecan grower I’ve ever heard pronounced it just like in the video. Carpetbaggers under the age of 60 – not so much.

  8. Brown rice and a tiny bit of brass polish works well in a tumbler.

    If you just want to soak brass overnight and have somewhere to air dry it a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar powder in 2 pints of water in old fruit juice bottle does 200 by .233 or 500 by 9 mm. You can dry in oven at low temperature if needed. Summer here averages 110 so I just put outside for a few hours.

  9. I squirt in a bit of Brasso with my corncob media. Frankfurt vibrator, works great. I also have a sonic cleaner from Harbor Frieght that has to be the same unit as Hornady’s in grey. Works fine but don’t like having to dry out the brass afterward.

    • Brasso is not a good idea. Brasso contains ammonia, which causes brass to harden, which promotes cracking and reduces the life of the casings. Its fine for brassware that isn’t required to stretch out and size back down every time you load it. OFC, the working hardens the brass anyway, and it cracks eventually anyway. One could anneal the cases to remove the hardening, but that’s another operation… it’s all a trade off. If the cases were annealed every time they get loaded they might last almost forever, but who wants to do that every time?

  10. Sometimes you use all methods during processing before a final polish before loading.

    Wish we could post pics of finished product. Spoiler alert, you’d be jealous.

      • I should send you some brass, or finished rounds (Class 6 / ITAR registered / insured / all legal-like). Everything but the Israeli Supermodels “Hey G.I., you likey some subsonics?” (still not sure where to get those [the Supermodels, not the subsonics]).

        I believe you’d find very quickly, that you’ve developed a strong chocolate allergy (way more than watery eyes, we’re talking anaphylactic). And you’d shoot better.

        I would send you some just to get a behind-the-scenes review. I think you’d stop making / buying elsewhere, and I know that’s saying a lot.

        You got my email addy, through TTAG.

  11. Don’t forget that vibratory tumblers create a fine lead-containing dust that gets everywhere. The lead is from the primers, not just the bullets. I have small kids so I use a rotary tumbler.

    • Nu Finish wax can really knock the dust down, as can a paper towel or dryer sheet. The trouble (with any possible air born contaminants / health hazards) is that you usually need to use a tumbling ‘separator’ afterwards.

      Even a rotary tumbler leaves you with environmental issues. Gotta dump the rinsate somewhere. Good to pump it through a good micron whole-house filter and then properly dispose of the filter.

  12. I quit caring about polish a long time ago. I want the cases clean, not shiny. Walnut media for about 20min, throw in a couple used dryer sheets to collect the dust. For BPCR, decap At the range and drop spent cases in a jug of vinegar and water or just soapy water. Clean in the sink at home with a nylon bore brush and hot soapy water. Dry on glass stove top.

  13. I’ve tried a bit of everything. Corn cob, ultrasonic, now stainless pins. I preferred corn cob to ultrasonic because IMO ultrasonic is vastly overrated.

    Then I switched to stainless when I found the Franklin armory tumbler on sale on amazon. Best decision ever. Decap with a universal decapping due to save wear and tear, dump in tumbler, add a squirt of dawn. Best brass ever. Then I dry it off in a food dehydrator I repurposed.

    No more extra primer pocket cleaning, just spotless brass. If you’re on the fence just do it, you’ll love it especially if you reload in bulk like I do. Takes a tedious job and makes it bearable.

  14. I use a Thumbler tumbler, corn cob and some polish. About two hours and it’s looking pretty good. If I want a high shine I’ll run it for about four hours. Pour it all in a gold pan like media separator and swish it around to knock the cob out of the brass. Best thing about the Thumbler is it’s pretty quiet. Rubber lined as it’s meant to be used as a rock tumbler. The model I have will hold 15 pounds of brass and media at a time.

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