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  1. #1
    Legacy Member RossMkIIEnjoyer's Avatar
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    How Clean Does Brass Used with Blackpowder Need to Get?

    Hi,
    I fired my first blackpowder cartridge handloads yesterday and began cleaning immediately. I rinsed my cases, decapped them, then soaked them in hot water with some dawn dish soap. I then dried them and tumbled them. After maybe 12 hours they were shiny on the outside again but the primer pockets and the bottom of inside the cases still have black spots. I soaked them again today and they are in the tumbler again while I sleep.

    Is it normal to not get every speck of blackpowder residue out? Will the life of these shells be cut short? Or am I concerned about nothing?

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    Contributing Member Steve762's Avatar
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    In our area diehard Cowboy shooters that use black powder put their fired brass in a water/soap solution as soon as they come off the line. Black powder residue corrodes brass pretty fast.

    Assume you are adding polish to your media. If not that may be the first thing to try. Rooster Bright is a great media polish made for the commercial reloading industry. It is rebranded and sold by Midway or Dillon-forget which one.

    Pin tumbling seems to be replacing corn cob media tumbling/vibrating since it gives excellent results with no dust.
    If you want your brass to be shinny clean on the inside and out with clean primer pockets (deprive before tumbling) rotary tumble with stainless steel pins, water, Dawn dish soap and a little Lemi-Shine. Talk to your shooting buddies about pin tumbling (see also YouTube). Since the cleaned brass will tarnish instantly a short soak in a mild solution of water and Zip Wax auto wash/wax soap leaves a thin film that stops tarnishing. You will need a rotary style tumbler ie Thumbler Tumbler Model B not a vibratory type.

    Regards, Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve762 View Post
    Pin tumbling seems to be replacing corn cob media tumbling/vibrating
    That's what I use and would recommend. Three hours works and returns the brass to new look. Dump your brass into the soapy solution on the firing line as soon as possible. The firing action has already driven the powder into the brass but that will prolong it's life.

    When using the stainless steel pins and lemme shine and dawn, a little is better than a lot. Literally a few drops of dawn and a teaspoon of lemme shine or your brass will tarnish again as soon as it's dry. More is not better. I also start with hot water and rinse with hot water.
    Last edited by browningautorifle; 07-20-2022 at 10:22 AM.
    Regards, Jim

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    Legacy Member RossMkIIEnjoyer's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks,
    I looked at a wet tumbler with the stainless pins but didn't want to spend the money. Looks like once I can swing it, I'll have to get one. I currently have a vibratory tumbler with fresh corn cob media. I was going to put extra polishing compound in but all that I had left was a couple drops. The brass looks fairly clean now but I'll have to keep an eye on it I guess. I wouldn't be so worried if these shells weren't so expensive and didn't have such a lead time.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RossMkIIEnjoyer View Post
    I looked at a wet tumbler with the stainless pins but didn't want to spend the money.
    I understand you completely and had the exact same thoughts years ago. Then I would endure hours of vibra tumbling when my media started to degrade for only mediocre results. This cleans completely and no more buying media. You'll learn the hardships though, noisy, messy, have to keep the pins policed up and how to dry your brass effectively. I had to read miles of opinions to glean what I needed. Including why my brass was turning dark again after polishing...
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve762 View Post
    Pin tumbling seems to be replacing corn cob media tumbling/vibrating since it gives excellent results with no dus
    I pin tumble range brass. My own brass that never hits the floor gets walnut media tumbled for 2-3 reloads, then pin tumbled (no reason other than time/hassle drying...even with a dryer). I use walnut media too for tumbling to de-grease after sizing or assembling. very quick for this.

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    Love pin tumbling. Did not realize how much I detested the dusty mess of corn cob/walnut media. With pins the nasty munitions residue goes down the drain and does not stay around your reloading area as lead/carbon media dust. Pins give better results and clean primer pockets in a few hours. No worries about any case lube or wet media remaining on the inside of the case.

    Drying pin tumbled brass:
    --Straight walled pistol brass- I made a rack with wire mess (1/4" holes) that holds hundreds of pistol cases. It is on 6-8" legs so brass is elevated off the floor to allow air circulation. Pistol brass dries in a day or less with the natural room air flow.
    --Rifle cases- I place rifle cases in 50 round plastic ammo trays that have open bottoms necks down. Any water drains down out of the case and the open bottom tray allows for air flow. Trays placed over a floor heat/AC vent dry in a day or less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve762 View Post
    Love pin tumbling. Did not realize how much I detested the dusty mess of corn cob/walnut media. With pins the nasty munitions residue goes down the drain and does not stay around your reloading area as lead/carbon media dust. Pins give better results and clean primer pockets in a few hours. No worries about any case lube or wet media remaining on the inside of the case.
    Agreed on all this...

    Quote Originally Posted by ssgross View Post
    My own brass that never hits the floor gets walnut media tumbled for 2-3 reloads, then pin tumbled (no reason other than time/hassle drying...even with a dryer).
    Yes, a hassle but the end product...

    I spread my brass out on a flat area on a garbage bag and pins too to dry. Works better than the oven or the dryer. Just leave it 24 hours. Most people can't get away with this...
    Regards, Jim

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    I keep a wide mouth plastic jug with a screw top filled with soapy water in the range kit. The brass goes in it as soon as practical after firing. Riding in the back of the truck from some ranges it is pretty well tumbled by the time I hit the highway.

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    I use distilled water for sonic cleaning after tumbling and also rinsing the cases if you use normal tap water the minerals in it tend to discolour and streak when dried and looks bad.

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