Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

1
Hi folks,

Recently I decided, since it was on a 60% discount, to give wet-tumbling a try, specifically with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler kit. The thing comes with the following items.

1.) the tumbler motor itself
2.) the tumbling vessel, a rather large one
3.) five pounds of stainless steel pins (the cleaning medium)
4.) a screener to recover the stainless steel pins after tumbling
5.) an instruction book

The cases that I'm currently tumbling, as I type this, are .45 Colt cases, about 300 of them. They were a bit dirty after use, not horrifically so, but you definitely can tell that they'd been used.

Best results are, I'm told, gotten if one first deprimes the cases, so that the stainless steel pins can also clean the primer pockets. So, I did that. I am currently using straight tap water, without the often-recommended Lemi-Shine. The built-in timer is set for two hours, so we'll see how they turn out. It's fairly late here, approximately 10:00pm Eastern Time, so I'll check them in the morning.

If this does a good job, then I will have found a way to clean cases with a lowered risk of breathing in the residual lead styphnate dust from the spent primers. Some experimentation, possibly with a little bit of Lemi-Shine, may be required for best results. We shall see.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

3
I also deprime when wet tumbling with SS pins. I use cheap dishwashing detergent. Comes out shiny.

2 hours is a bit much. It’d wear down your brass quicker I imagine…

Yes, wet tumbling to reduce lead dust was also part of my decision process (because I also cast boolits).
"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent." -Gandhi

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

5
Folks are wise to avoid tumbling dust, and that's why I do mine outside. The wet tumbling clearly eliminates that aspect. I haven't spent all that much time cleaning medium out of the primer pockets. I keep a custom-bent paper clip on my bench when I'm priming. Because I do them one at a time, I find it not too bad to check for bits of walnut shell in there. If I wet tumbled, I'd put it in the laundry area. Then I wouldn't have to worry about rain, cold, or oppressive heat when I go out to my reloading shack.

CDFingers
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Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

6
OK, the initial results are in. The cases are basically pretty clean, not "brand new" clean, but clean. The pins clearly worked on the primer pockets and the insides of the cases, getting much of the gunk out. There's still a little bit of black gunk in the primer pockets, but it's much better than it was. Actually, I gave it another hour today after yesterday's 2-hour session. Doesn't appear to have hurt the brass at all.

The outsides of the cases are spic 'n' span clean. They are not shiny like brand-new, but that was not expected since I used straight tap water. Rather, they were just a little dull. The water in the tumbler was good 'n' cloudy from the gunk on all the cases. The cleaning vessel is large enough and sturdy enough that I could easily have done more than 300 at once. It is possible, and I suspect probable, that with continued wet-tumbling, the remaining gunk would be cleaned out, with the cases looking if not brand-new-shiny, at least as clean as brand new cases. The next batch will be with a little dishwasher detergent liquid.

Separating the cleaning medium, i. e. the stainless steel pins, was, in my experience, much like with dry tumbling. A few pins fell out onto the table during case-medium separation. Those were easily gathered up with a good, strong magnet like you'd get out of an old hard disk drive. So, if I lost any of the pins, it was very few.

The major pain is depriming the cases before wet-tumbling, at least for me. This is where Lee Precision's new APP press would come in very handy. Just pour the cases into the case feeder and start pulling the handle. I actually might buy one of those for this purpose.

Dry-tumbling is still the most convenient method. It gets the cases nice 'n' clean on the outside, very nearly like brand new, with a 50/50 mixture of walnut and Lyman's treated corn cob, which is what I generally use. The cases are certainly clean enough on the inside to do reloading and always have been. Depriming for best dry-tumbling results is not required with this method. by its nature. Even if one does, though, it's best to use small-crushed walnut, and for those cases that get a bit of cleaning medium wedged into the flash hole, the deprimer/resizer die takes care of that most readily. So, it doesn't affect my reloading one bit if that happens. But given that dry-tumbling after depriming doesn't really seem to do a lot for the primer pockets (they still remained pretty gunky, overall), I stopped depriming first when using this cleaning method.

The bugaboo with dry-tumbling is, of course, the lead dust exposure, because like Bisbee above, I also cast my own boolits and would like to "keep the lead out". Matter of fact, virtually all of my handloads so far, with the exception of a few rifle rounds, have been with cast boolits lubed with Liquid Alox/Xlox.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

8
I'm in the process of dry-tumbling a bunch of .45 ACP cases, using my traditional 50/50 mix of walnut and treated corn cob. I'm doing a 5-gallon bucket o' brass, about 300 cases at a time, for about 3 hours each run. Currently about halfway through the bucket.

In the specific case of .45 ACP, the cases are short and of large bore, so the cleaning medium can get into the cases pretty readily and do a good job cleaning out the insides as well. The outsides look like they're brand-new cases. This would not happen so much with, say, .38/357 and definitely not any bottlenecked rifle cases.

There is no question that dry-tumbling is more convenient. None. The value-add for wet-tumbling handgun cases, therefore, is the reduced exposure to the airborne lead dust inherent in dry-tumbling. I'm still a little undecided about that, given the great cleaning results that I get with dry-tumbling. However, with the wet-tumbler, I can do 1,000 cases at a time. With the dry-tumbler, I can do 300 per shot. So, with full loads, the wet-tumbler might also end up being a bit of a time-saver, which would be very good if true.

Now, for rifle cases, I expect that will be different. I have a bunch of .308 Winchester and 7.62x54R Russian that needs to be cleaned. A lot of the .308 Win is military brass, meaning it's crimped, so the Lee APP press, with the primer pocket swager, will come in extremely handy for that. This is, I believe, where wet-tumbling will be the most advantageous. Due to a rifle's higher pressures, the brass will be worked more, and it'll be even more important to find any defects during brass inspection. The cleaner the case, the better, and that includes the "ring" close to the case web that starts happening when you're getting closer to case head separation. You've got to be able to see that and detect it. So, the cleaner, inside and out, the better.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

11
Like a good martini, I prefer dry, only stirred, not shaken. Vibratory cleaners get the best of both!

One of my occupations when I was useful and paying into the system, was operating a street sweeper and as such I developed an overly paranoid aversion to dust and airborne particles of the lung destroying kind. Half face mask w/P100 filters solves pesky dust issue.

The empty coffee cans fit nicely into this drum and the molded handles stir the brass well. The can lids fit well enough to use wet but it is a bit of a bother. Don't know how many ACP cases fit, in the can. To get the remaining dust off the cases, I “tumble” them in an old bath towel, hammock style.

Replaced motor long ago and added timer switch and cooling fan cause, why not?
IMG_2372.JPG

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

12
papajim2jordan wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 2:22 pm Like a good martini, I prefer dry, only stirred, not shaken. Vibratory cleaners get the best of both!

One of my occupations when I was useful and paying into the system, was operating a street sweeper and as such I developed an overly paranoid aversion to dust and airborne particles of the lung destroying kind. Half face mask w/P100 filters solves pesky dust issue.

The empty coffee cans fit nicely into this drum and the molded handles stir the brass well. The can lids fit well enough to use wet but it is a bit of a bother. Don't know how many ACP cases fit, in the can. To get the remaining dust off the cases, I “tumble” them in an old bath towel, hammock style.

Replaced motor long ago and added timer switch and cooling fan cause, why not?IMG_2372.JPG
Love it. Whose tumbler is it? Model # pls
Happiness is a worn gun. - Dan Baum

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

13
tonguengroover wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 3:32 pm
papajim2jordan wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 2:22 pm Like a good martini, I prefer dry, only stirred, not shaken. Vibratory cleaners get the best of both!

One of my occupations when I was useful and paying into the system, was operating a street sweeper and as such I developed an overly paranoid aversion to dust and airborne particles of the lung destroying kind. Half face mask w/P100 filters solves pesky dust issue.

The empty coffee cans fit nicely into this drum and the molded handles stir the brass well. The can lids fit well enough to use wet but it is a bit of a bother. Don't know how many ACP cases fit, in the can. To get the remaining dust off the cases, I “tumble” them in an old bath towel, hammock style.

Replaced motor long ago and added timer switch and cooling fan cause, why not?IMG_2372.JPG
Love it. Whose tumbler is it? Model # pls
It's a Thumlers Mod. B. Had no idea they cost this much now.

http://www.thumlerstumbler.com/

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

14
papajim2jordan wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 3:44 pm
tonguengroover wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 3:32 pm
papajim2jordan wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 2:22 pm Like a good martini, I prefer dry, only stirred, not shaken. Vibratory cleaners get the best of both!

One of my occupations when I was useful and paying into the system, was operating a street sweeper and as such I developed an overly paranoid aversion to dust and airborne particles of the lung destroying kind. Half face mask w/P100 filters solves pesky dust issue.

The empty coffee cans fit nicely into this drum and the molded handles stir the brass well. The can lids fit well enough to use wet but it is a bit of a bother. Don't know how many ACP cases fit, in the can. To get the remaining dust off the cases, I “tumble” them in an old bath towel, hammock style.

Replaced motor long ago and added timer switch and cooling fan cause, why not?IMG_2372.JPG
Love it. Whose tumbler is it? Model # pls
It's a Thumlers Mod. B. Had no idea they cost this much now.

http://www.thumlerstumbler.com/
Well I'll be danged if I can find a price. That said
I always had this vision of a tumbler made for polishing rocks. My 3rd grade teacher hooked us on rock collecting and had a tumbler in our classroom.
Happiness is a worn gun. - Dan Baum

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

15
tonguengroover wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 10:20 pm
papajim2jordan wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 3:44 pm
tonguengroover wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 3:32 pm
papajim2jordan wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 2:22 pm Like a good martini, I prefer dry, only stirred, not shaken. Vibratory cleaners get the best of both!

One of my occupations when I was useful and paying into the system, was operating a street sweeper and as such I developed an overly paranoid aversion to dust and airborne particles of the lung destroying kind. Half face mask w/P100 filters solves pesky dust issue.

The empty coffee cans fit nicely into this drum and the molded handles stir the brass well. The can lids fit well enough to use wet but it is a bit of a bother. Don't know how many ACP cases fit, in the can. To get the remaining dust off the cases, I “tumble” them in an old bath towel, hammock style.

Replaced motor long ago and added timer switch and cooling fan cause, why not?IMG_2372.JPG
Love it. Whose tumbler is it? Model # pls
It's a Thumlers Mod. B. Had no idea they cost this much now.

http://www.thumlerstumbler.com/
Well I'll be danged if I can find a price. That said
I always had this vision of a tumbler made for polishing rocks. My 3rd grade teacher hooked us on rock collecting and had a tumbler in our classroom.
A more thorough search may yield a better price.
https://www.amainhobbies.com/thumlers-t ... 140/p80135
https://www.rockshed.com/product-catego ... -tumblers/
https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Tumblers ... 0f5a4e2f90
https://www.ebay.com/itm/404041397094?h ... R_SH-sGfYQ

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

16
Just got through dry-tumbling a "Homer Bucket" sized collection of .45 ACP brass in my 50/50 mixture of walnut and treated corn cob. Each tumbling session is at least 4 hours. That brass is a-sparklin'! Seriously, it looks brand-new.

The key to making wet-tumbling, from a hands-on labor point of view, will be efficient decapping of the brass. I don't see where it makes sense to wet-tumble without decapping first. The Lee APP is on the way, so hopefully this will help. If it really is fast at decapping brass, then I'll only dry-tumble in the winter time when it gets below freezing, with the rest of the year using wet-tumbling.

I also am researching recipes for dish soap and Lemi-Shine. It appears that you don't need much of either; a little seems to go a long way in this application.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

17
Well, I gave wet-tumbling a shot on 1,000 cases of .38 Special. Started it during lunch hour (I'm working from home today) and let it go for about 3 hours while I kept working. Used a squirt of Dawn dishwashing detergent and a .45 ACP case full of Lemi-Shine. Also has the stainless-steel tumbling pins in there. Since the Lee APP hasn't yet arrived, I figured I'd give it a shot without decapping first, as some others have shown on some other forums that they've done (with pics). Also gave the cases a two-hour tumble with a fresh-water rinse.

Conclusions after today's session:

1.) you can do more cases at once with this National Metallic rotary tumbler than with a vibratory tumbler. I'd say about 1,300 cases of .38 Special would fit pretty easily, so there's plenty of room for 1,000.

2.) It doesn't get the outside of the cases any shinier than my above recipe for dry-tumbling.

It is entirely possible that I'll need to fine-tweak the cleaning recipe. That's kind of what it took with dry-tumbling, too.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

21
papajim2jordan wrote: Sat Dec 31, 2022 4:04 pm Colander, hot water. Metal ones are also good for thwarting govt. mind reading scanner.
CDFingers wrote: Sat Dec 31, 2022 4:12 pm Fashion statement.

CDFingers
No, no, a religious one. Praise be the FSM!
.
Image
.
But to answer the question, I did two rinses of straight tap water in the wet tumbler for 5 minutes each. That got 'em clean.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

23
I learned something else, BTW. After you wet-tumble the cases, rinse them, and set them outside to dry overnight...do remember to check whether it's going to rain or not! I failed to do this. As Murphy's Law would have it, the rain came that very night and soaked the towels that my cases were sitting on. Woke up to brass that was still somewhat shiny, but with brown blotch spots on 'em. Whoops.

However, it did give me an excuse this evening to decap them the standard way, i. e. with a universal decapper die and a single-stage press. Took a couple of hours to do all 1,000 cases. The $30 Lee Reloader Press, my little single-stage, that's been on my bench for the last 13 years, has been getting plenty of use, and tonight was yet another example.

This experience taught me two things.

1.) Don't be stupid and leave your freshly cleaned cases out in the rain! Duh...!
2.) The Lee APP is going to be a major labor saver when it arrives, especially if I continue wet-tumbling.

Yes, the cases will be getting another run of tumbling to get rid of the brown spots. But on the bright side, the insides of the cases are pretty clean! :-D
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

Re: Wet-tumbling with the National Metallic rotary case tumbler

25
Yeah, mine's one of the newer ones. I read over on CalGuns about drying them for an hour at 200 degrees F. Also going to use a bit less soap than I did the last time, about half the quantity. I'm using a .45 ACP-sized case full of Lemi-Shine along with it. Two rinses afterwards. Hopefully that does it. One way or another, I'm going to find an optimal recipe.
"San Francisco Liberal With A Gun"
http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/ (reloading instruction)
http://www.liberalsguncorner.com/ (podcast)
---------------------------------------
A true Liberal must back the Second Amendment 100%!

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