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  #1  
Old 03-23-2017, 8:39 AM
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Default Thinking about a wet tumbler, what are the pros and cons?

I know very little about them... seems like a more involved prossess and does less brass at a time than with a regular vibratory. What els do I need to knwo?
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Old 03-23-2017, 8:49 AM
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You can read all the threads in this forum to start.

I went wet and never considered dry.

Pros: Faster. Even with drying, but I live in the desert. No airborne dust or airborne lead. Cleaner primer pockets (but it doesn't affect function for plinking rounds). No need to continuously replace media. Quieter.

Mostly, I just like it. And that is probably the best arguement.

Quite frankly, you could brush out the crap and just reload it and not really clean it and be happy.
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:40 AM
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There's really no downside to it other than time. it's worth investing in the Frankford Arsenal dryer, media tumbler and magnet, as it makes for a nice, simple workflow, but not strictly necessary. At least get the magnet for sure however, its cheap and IS necessary.
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:55 AM
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I've the Largest Vibratory Tumbler Dillion makes

Could that be used O K for wet tumbling with S.S. ?
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:59 AM
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No Mr. Dirt. SS pins do not play well in vibrating tumblers. Not well at all from what I understand. BUT I bet they would play better if you used Jeweler's shot instead... Hmm, it might work your motor a bit, but you might consider that if you feel like MAYBE wasting some money. Else you might try rice, (uncooked) but well, yeah anyways...



I can only speak for the Thumler Model B. But I tell you what...

I paid about $127 for my Thumler and I got it from Ebay. It was beat to hell, had gray paint splashed all over it, had leftover cleaning media and powder inside, the frame was jacked, but it worked. The FIRST thing I did was took it apart and sand blasted the entire frame and the barrel. Then I painted the frame Gray and I painted the barrel with a Sandy Midnight Black textured paint that gave the outside a little more traction in the water. Then I ordered a Model B upgrade motor (Mine was a model A I guess, slower motor at 1551 RPMs, the Model B has a 3000 RPM motor) and then I ordered a new bearing and roller or two for it and essentially rebuilt it all for under $210.

It has worked flawlessly for the past 5+ years.

The pros- Could I have done that with a Frankford Arsenal or an RCBS? Maybe there would have been a different route to take with them. Maybe...

Who cares, One thing I really enjoy is that the inside of the Thumler is HEX so there is no need to put in agitators, it is NOT round, so it is simple already, it naturally agitates as it spins. If you have a ROUND barrel with no agitators inside, it will not tumble anything. You will need at least one, as it is I have about 5 or so, maybe 6, I never really counted but since I called it HEX then it should be 6. Wow. Egg on my face for that...

What about materials? Well, it might not vibrate, but I can run it dry with Rice, and prolly even walnut media, but I have not tried that yet, just with rice. I know that Rice will clean shells too. Not as good as the water + citric acid + pins, but it will clean them decently on the outside anyways. If I REALLY wanted to to, I could prolly toss in some finished rounds into a rice mixture and let it spin for a half hour and see what it does...

Moving along... I also can use my Thumler as a Powder Coater. I put in a squared inner container, put in some powder, projectiles and ASBBs and close it with rags around the container as suspension and let it tumble for 15 minutes or so and viola, it is done, open it up, take out the container, pluck and bake...

AND if I ever feel like polishing rocks...

I can not speak for a vibrator. I have a vibrator, but not for cleaning shells. It was to attach to my LNL dropper and make the 800-X powder drop more consistently. All I can tell you is that I should have spent more and gotten the blackzilla D model because it had a VIBRATE YOUR BRAINS OUT mode where the little Hollow Point that I got did not. But I also did not feel like dropping $74 for a dildo in the store. I still wonder what those two girls were thinking of me that day...

So anyways, there ya have it... I can not speak for the vibrating cleaners because I have never given them a chance. I never cared to. Well, I DID but then I decided to go the wet route since I HATE having expendables...

Last edited by stilly; 03-23-2017 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:52 AM
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OP, I wash mine in soapy water twice - once to get out the loose dirt before sizing and again after sizing to get rid of the case lube. I use recycled aluminum pie pans to dry them in a 200-220 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Someone did a test that showed soaking brass in water and a bit of Lemishine would get most of the tarnish off if you want shiny brass.

Interestingly enough my wife has given me permission to wash cases in the clothes washer but I'm gonna stick with my low tech method.

One thing to note about tumbling, wet or dry, if you're into separating your cases by headstamp. Abrasive media, including SS, will gradually obliterate the headstamp markings. Might not be an issue for younger guys (and gals) with good eyesight but I found it problematic.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Briancnelson View Post
There's really no downside to it other than time. it's worth investing in the Frankford Arsenal dryer, media tumbler and magnet, as it makes for a nice, simple workflow, but not strictly necessary. At least get the magnet for sure however, its cheap and IS necessary.
Time is it.

I have a Thumlers of some model (the one with the rubber drum); 5 lbs of SS pins, and a cheapish food dehydrator as a dryer.

My workflow is something like this:

Dry tumble in walnut media for 20 or so minutes to knock off most of the dirt (optional depending on how grungy they are.)

Lube cases and decap/resize (rifle.) Pistol just gets decapped, as it's sized on the progressive press.

Cases go into the tumbler drum, fill most of the way with water, add about 2 tbsp of Dawn dishwashing liquid and 1/8 tsp of lemishine crystals. I usually add some Wash and Wax car shampoo, but I don't see it doing a lot.

Seal up drum and tumble for anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, depending on my availability.

Crack drum open and drain off water, refill and agitate, dump again.

Dump the drum into a wet media separator and give it a few spins.

Remove cases and dry at 70C for 45 minutes to an hour. (I made up some racks that hold the cases at a 45 degree angle so no water pools inside. Laying cases on a rack may need longer to evaporate any pooled water inside the cases.)

Done.

You could simply run them in a vibratory (dry) tumbler for an hour or two, which gets them pretty clean, but that won't get the interiors or primer pockets clean.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:12 PM
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After 18 years of dry, I went wet last year and will never go back to dry.

Shinier brass with wet, and no more breathing in the dust from dry vibratory walnut shells, etc.

My formula with the Frankford Arsenal tumbler is to use a bit of Lemishine and a bit of Meguires Carwash/wax. It's 9 bucks for a 48 oz bottle. I DO NOT USE DAWN like a lot of people do.

The end result is no more water spots on the brass with the Meguires and and a nice ever so soft wax layer on the brass. They don't tarnish.
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Old 03-23-2017, 2:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by divingin View Post
Time is it.

I have a Thumlers of some model (the one with the rubber drum); 5 lbs of SS pins, and a cheapish food dehydrator as a dryer.

My workflow is something like this:

Dry tumble in walnut media for 20 or so minutes to knock off most of the dirt (optional depending on how grungy they are.)

Lube cases and decap/resize (rifle.) Pistol just gets decapped, as it's sized on the progressive press.

Cases go into the tumbler drum, fill most of the way with water, add about 2 tbsp of Dawn dishwashing liquid and 1/8 tsp of lemishine crystals. I usually add some Wash and Wax car shampoo, but I don't see it doing a lot.

Seal up drum and tumble for anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, depending on my availability.

Crack drum open and drain off water, refill and agitate, dump again.

Dump the drum into a wet media separator and give it a few spins.

Remove cases and dry at 70C for 45 minutes to an hour. (I made up some racks that hold the cases at a 45 degree angle so no water pools inside. Laying cases on a rack may need longer to evaporate any pooled water inside the cases.)

Done.

You could simply run them in a vibratory (dry) tumbler for an hour or two, which gets them pretty clean, but that won't get the interiors or primer pockets clean.
The walnut step is inefficient imho. If its really nasty range brass i would run the wet tumbler for 20-30min with just dawn and lemishine and then dump the dirty water and replace it with clean water, armor all and lemishine.

You might not be getting good results from the armor all because the dawn is stripping it off.
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Old 03-23-2017, 6:50 PM
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With a dry tumbler, I just let it run overnight in walnut, doesn't clean the pockets but the outside looks good.

Then I process the brass.

once done, I may tumble the finished cartridges in corn cob for 30 min to knock the lube off.

Wet sure sounds like a LOT more work.
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Old 03-23-2017, 6:59 PM
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Pros, beautiful perfect shiny brass. Clean primer pockets, unlimited media life

Cons, universal decapping before tumbling, limited batch size, drying brass
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Old 03-23-2017, 7:29 PM
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I'm still working on my technique, but for me it's twice as good as dry tumbling, but 3 times the work.

Worth it for me, YMMV
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Old 03-23-2017, 7:42 PM
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Pros, beautiful perfect shiny brass. Clean primer pockets, unlimited media life

Cons, universal decapping before tumbling, limited batch size, drying brass

Do you have to decap before you wet tumble?
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Old 03-23-2017, 7:50 PM
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Do you have to decap before you wet tumble?
You don't have to, unless you want clean primer pockets, and that is one of the advantages of wet tumbling.
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Old 03-23-2017, 8:05 PM
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You don't have to, unless you want clean primer pockets, and that is one of the advantages of wet tumbling.
The main reason I was thinking wet is that I load lots of .45ACP with bullseye, small charges. if the inside is bright, it makes it easy to see the charge on a progressive.
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Old 03-23-2017, 8:18 PM
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I just started wet tumbling. This is a load that spent 2 hours tumbling earlier today.

PRO:


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Old 03-23-2017, 8:25 PM
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Do you have to decap before you wet tumble?
You don't have to, but you do if you want clean primer pockets, and I do because it minimizes lead dust exposure
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Old 03-23-2017, 8:36 PM
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I just started wet tumbling. This is a load that spent 2 hours tumbling earlier today.

PRO:


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Old 03-23-2017, 9:05 PM
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Default Thinking about a wet tumbler, what are the pros and cons?

I wet tumble and like it. I sold my dry tumbler long ago. It's dirty, dusty and sifting and sorting was not working for me. I only reload pistol and thinks it easier. I don't do mass amounts and use the cheap rock tumbler from harbor freight for several years now. And it works fine without an agitator. After a range visit I drop the brass in the tumbler, squirt some hand soap and lemi shine, add water and let it roll for 30-40 minutes, pour out the dirty water, rince and separate pins and brass and then layout the brass to air dry. Nicely shiny brass ready to go! It doesn't work well if you need to reload the brass quickly unless you do another step to oven dry it, but I never have.
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Old 03-23-2017, 9:37 PM
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Originally Posted by five.five-six View Post
With a dry tumbler, I just let it run overnight in walnut, doesn't clean the pockets but the outside looks good.

Then I process the brass.

once done, I may tumble the finished cartridges in corn cob for 30 min to knock the lube off.

Wet sure sounds like a LOT more work.
It is if you decap first, and clean pockets is one of the main benefits of wet tumbling so If you don't need clean primer pockets and don't care about minimizing lead exposure I'd stick to dry tumbling.

The other advantage is being able to salvage heavily corroded range brass. Of course there is a good argument against using corroded brass.
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:43 PM
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After 18 years of dry, I went wet last year and will never go back to dry.
Me neither. After many years of dry vibratory cleaning I tried wet a couple of weeks ago and I'm not going back. Main advantage is speed. Wet cleans better - inside and outside - after one hour than dry cleans overnight. Advantages are better cleaning in less time. Disadvantage is it uses more consumables (whatever detergent or cleaner you use), but that stuff is cheap.

I went cheap by buying a Harbor Freight dual tumbler http://www.harborfreight.com/dual-dr...ler-67632.html

If I had known about their 20% of coupon http://www.harborfreight.com/ I could have gotten it even cheaper ($48). It's a lower-cost way to try wet tumbling if you aren't sure and just want to try it. There are several YouTube videos featuring the Harbor Freight tumbler:




I use Lyman pins $23.99 for 5 lbs

And the Lyman media sifter



It does a great job of quickly separating the cases from the pins.

I use the traditional Dawn + Lemi Shine combination and this dedicated detergent https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1



Again, speed and superior cleaning. Try it, you'll like it!
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Old 03-24-2017, 9:20 AM
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You can get the Frankford tumbler shipped with Triple15 coupon code for about $140 from Jet.com. Seems like a pretty good deal, has the pins, and the screw on screen grate attachments seem to make it convenient to use.
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:17 AM
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I am a function of form kind of guy. I am not seeing any lacking in dry tumbling to take on wet tumbling. I reload 9mm, 40, 45acp and 357 mag. As long as my dies stay clean, rounds feed and function. I tumble in my drafty garage and the lizard media seems to not become airborne.

As long as dry tumbling works for me I will keep doing it. I have lots of other areas I need to work on getting better at.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:30 AM
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I started with wet. Sold it and went to dry. Much happier


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Old 03-24-2017, 12:18 PM
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I started with wet. Sold it and went to dry. Much happier


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Ya know, it is funny. I was thinking of buying a dry just to try it out.

But for some reason, I just have not pulled the trigger on it yet. I think because I can run dry with rice and it has what I feel is a similar effect, very clean outsides, but soft glow, not bright gold. Good for me though. One day I might just give the dry vibrators a shot, but until then, I still do enjoy seeing that gold come out of the wash...
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:11 PM
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I started with wet. Sold it and went to dry. Much happier


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Same here, so much easier, no drying, separating pins, less is more.

Haven't sold any yet, just might.
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Old 03-25-2017, 8:10 AM
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I started with wet and have never done dry. The FA pins separate quite easily in a media separator. I've never found a pin in the rinse water or in a case. Calibers I've done:.25, 38, 357Mag, 44Mag, 41Mag, 338WinMag, 308, 223, 45, maybe others. The FA drum is rated to hold 1000 .223 cases and will, but I found that more than 750 or so make it take a lot longer to get the insides/primer pockets fully clean. The Harbor Freight rock tumbler holds about 100 .223 per drum, never actually counted but it's in that area. I've done a few experiments with the FA tumbler and my HF rock tumbler and have determined that the time to clean is based on the ratio of brass to pins. A few cases in the rock tumbler with a handful of pins and they're totally clean in less than an hour. Regardless the amount of brass/pins, and even without pins, they'll get as clean as a vibratory can do it within a very short time, super clean is what takes time. They'll shine better than a vibrator could ever get them unless you add polish to the media, but even then the wet ones done right will outshine vibrated and often outshine new brass.

If I'm in a hurry to load I dry them in the oven, otherwise I just lay them out to dry before storing them. I can't see myself ever getting a vibratory and don't recall hearing of anyone that switched from wet with pins to dry, but many have gone the other way.
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Old 03-28-2017, 2:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyinverted View Post
After 18 years of dry, I went wet last year and will never go back to dry.

Shinier brass with wet, and no more breathing in the dust from dry vibratory walnut shells, etc.

My formula with the Frankford Arsenal tumbler is to use a bit of Lemishine and a bit of Meguires Carwash/wax. It's 9 bucks for a 48 oz bottle. I DO NOT USE DAWN like a lot of people do.

The end result is no more water spots on the brass with the Meguires and and a nice ever so soft wax layer on the brass. They don't tarnish.
Which Meguairs wash wax are.you using?
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Old 03-28-2017, 3:35 PM
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Which Meguairs wash wax are.you using?
The yellow stuff.

Meguires
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Old 03-28-2017, 5:55 PM
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I splurged and bought the Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler, aka "the FART". After seeing the muck that came off the first batch, I never looked back. So I de-prime and inspect my cases when I get back from the range, and tumble with a cc or so of Lemi-Shine and a teaspoon of Dawn when I get a sufficient number of cases to clean. The results are great. Good rinsing is important. If you do rifle cases, you want Stilly's pins. I also recommend the Frankford Arsenal media separtator.
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Old 03-28-2017, 7:30 PM
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The one thing I find is that wet tumbling strips everything from the cases, so they'll usually "bronze" after a short time (say, 2 weeks...). I tried using Meguiar's hoping the car wax would prevent this, but all it did was take longer to darken. I've found that if I dry them out, then toss 'em in the dry tumbler with polish-treated corncob, they'll stay a nice golden color forever.



Here's the result of 3 hours in a Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ with walnut media. The tarnished cases were reeeeeally tarnished & crusty to start, and at least they're clean/smooth now.





So I threw them in the Frankford Arsenal wet tumbler for 2.5 hours, followed by 15 mins in the dry tumbler w/ corncob to get a protective coat of polish back on 'em....


Last edited by acepilot55; 03-30-2017 at 8:37 PM..
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Old 03-29-2017, 7:50 AM
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The one thing I find is that wet tumbling strips everything from the cases, so they'll usually "bronze" after a short time (say, 2 weeks...). I tried using Meguier's hoping the car wax would prevent this, but all it did was take longer to darken. I've found that if I dry them out, then toss 'em in the dry tumbler with polish-treated corncob, they'll stay a nice golden color forever.

Here's the result of 3 hours in a Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ with walnut media. The tarnished cases were reeeeeally tarnished & crusty to start, and at least they're clean/smooth now.

So I threw them in the Frankford Arsenal wet tumbler for 2.5 hours, followed by 15 mins in the dry tumbler w/ corncob to get a protective coat of polish back on 'em....
I see you tumble with the primers in. If you don't oven dry them there's a chance you'll start getting corrosion in the pockets. Maybe the vibratory helps get rid of it for you, but I saw some cases someone did and let sit, the pockets were in bad shape. Primer type will probably also make a difference.
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Old 03-29-2017, 8:52 AM
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I see you tumble with the primers in. If you don't oven dry them there's a chance you'll start getting corrosion in the pockets. Maybe the vibratory helps get rid of it for you, but I saw some cases someone did and let sit, the pockets were in bad shape. Primer type will probably also make a difference.
This was just a test batch since I'm selling some brass for a few friends. A small amount of the cases are tarnished more than I usually see, so I decided to test wet vs dry.

I typically do deprime the cases.
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Old 03-30-2017, 9:09 AM
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The yellow stuff.

Meguires
Thanks!
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Old 03-30-2017, 7:16 PM
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I use the traditional Dawn + Lemi Shine combination and this dedicated detergent https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1



Again, speed and superior cleaning. Try it, you'll like it!
Do you use this stuff "in lieu of" or " in addition to " the Dawn + Lemi-Shine ?
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Old 03-30-2017, 9:07 PM
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I wont go back to dry tumbling.Went to wet tumbler with just a harbor freight dual drum and been happy with the results of cleaner brass.

Pins can be used and used for as long as you have them cleans inside of brass and pockets really good.

Only downside i can think of is getting the brass out of tumblers and shaking out the pins from the brass but then again with a dry media type i had to do the same then poke out the primer pocket too.So its a wash.
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Old 03-30-2017, 9:09 PM
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Default Thinking about a wet tumbler, what are the pros and cons?

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Originally Posted by stilly View Post
Ya know, it is funny. I was thinking of buying a dry just to try it out.



But for some reason, I just have not pulled the trigger on it yet. I think because I can run dry with rice and it has what I feel is a similar effect, very clean outsides, but soft glow, not bright gold. Good for me though. One day I might just give the dry vibrators a shot, but until then, I still do enjoy seeing that gold come out of the wash...


I switched to rice last month. I love it. I don't have the dust like I did with walnut. Its soft on my case mouths. I can tell very easily how dirty it is. It absorbs all the junk. Its stupid cheap media.



A 5# bag from Wal-Mart is $2.50 and it fills my Frankford Aresonal tumbler up perfectly. I've ran 100 .308 cases through it and then another batch of 200 .223 cases.

Before


After



Last edited by NorCalFocus; 03-30-2017 at 9:11 PM..
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Old 03-31-2017, 12:28 AM
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Yeah that looks about right for .44 mag as well.

I guess it boils down to HOW clean/shiny you want your brass.
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Old 03-31-2017, 2:23 AM
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Originally Posted by five.five-six View Post
The main reason I was thinking wet is that I load lots of .45ACP with bullseye, small charges. if the inside is bright, it makes it easy to see the charge on a progressive.
That is the first real benefit of wet over dry that I have ever heard.
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Old 03-31-2017, 6:53 AM
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You can get the Frankford tumbler shipped with Triple15 coupon code for about $140 from Jet.com. Seems like a pretty good deal, has the pins, and the screw on screen grate attachments seem to make it convenient to use.
This is how I did it. Best move in ever made in my reloading purchases.
Plus you get two more 30% off purchases from JET.com
If you use 8" paper towel rolls like in a mechanic's shop, they have the best prices.
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