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November 29th, 2016

Close Call: Tumbler Catches on Fire in Reloading Room

Electrical Fire Tumbler ExtinguisherA fire in the home is always to be feared. And a fire in your reloading room can be disastrous. Near your reloading bench you probably have flammable solvents, and maybe gunpowder. What would happen if an electrical fire started in your reloading room? Would you be alerted? Do you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand?

Here’s a true story from Forum Member Joe O. (aka “Joecob”) that provides a valuable safety lesson. After Joe started up his old tumbler, an internal connector worked loose, causing an arc which started a fire in his basement reloading area. Luckily Joe had a functioning smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher.

Very few of us would worry about fire when we plug in a tumbler or other AC-powered reloading tool. But there is always the possibility of a malfunction and a fire. Quick thinking (and a handy extinguisher) prevented serious damage to Joe’s reloading room and house — but things could have been worse (much worse), had Joe not responded quickly.

Fire in the Reloading RoomReport by Joecob
The day before ‘Sandy’ hit I was cleaning brass the way I always have. I set the vibratory tumbler on the back of my reloading bench in the basement. I loaded the media hopper with 40 fired empty brass cases (and walnut media), plugged the cord in, turned the tumbler on and went back upstairs to watch TV. I could hear the tumbler running in the background.

About half an hour later I heard the basement smoke alarm go off. I ran downstairs. Flames were licking from the melting plastic of the tumbler.

ABC fire extinguisherI grabbed the nearby ABC cannister extinguisher and squirted out the fire and soaked the charred bench areas with water. Good thing I had the extinguisher! And I was glad I religiously store powder and primers properly — away from the bench (and everything else).

What caused the fire? It looks like an internal AC connector finally vibrated loose enough to arc and ignite the plastic. WHEH! I had been using that thing for 25 years the same way without mishap. Guess I should have known to periodically check the guts of a thing that plugs in and vibrates for a living?

Today I went out and bought a new even bigger ‘Pro’ ABC extinguisher, plus a dual-detector smoke alarm, and an ultrasonic cleaner. That experience was scarier than the storm. I hope this true account might help someone else to avoid a bad experience.

In his account, Joe refers to an “ABC” cannister fire extinguisher. The “ABC” refers to the fire classification rating: Class A (trash, wood, and paper), Class B (liquids and gases), and Class C (energized electrical equipment) fires. There are many brands of ABC-rated extinguishers.

The rechargeable Kidde 210 unit contains four pounds of a multipurpose monoammonium phosphate dry chemical extinguishing agent. It has a discharge time of 13 to 15 seconds, a discharge range of 10 to 15 feet, and an operating pressure of 100 PSI. The seamless aluminum cylinder measures 4.5 inches in diameter and 15.7 inches tall. The Kidde 210 has a six-year limited warranty.

Check Your Fire Extinguishers Regularly
Forum member Steve Urban says: Make sure to inspect your extinguisher every year. Turn it upside down and then right-side up. You should be able to feel the powder move freely in the extinguisher. If not, it is time to get a new one.

Permalink News, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
December 9th, 2012

Cheap Tricks with 35mm Film Canisters

While many of us now favor digital photography over “old-fashioned” 35mm film, don’t toss those old 35mm film canisters, especially the clear Fuji-type with secure snap-in lids. Small plastic film canisters have a multitude of uses for the shooter and reloader.

Here Are Some of the Things You Can Do with Film Canisters:

1. If you weigh powder charges after throwing them with a manual powder dispenser, throw the charges first into a film canister and then use that to drop the powder into the measuring pan on your scale. The canister will catch every kernel of powder. If you throw charges directly into a weighing pan, powder can sometimes bounce out. Using the film canister will help keep spilled powder off your loading bench and floor.

2. Store extra sets of foam ear-plugs in the canister. You never want to be without ear protection. This editor has four film canisters filled with plugs. Two go in the range kit, one goes in the car’s glove compartment, and a second stays in a lock box I use to transport pistols. This way I never find myself at the range without ear protection.

3. Place your smaller cotton patches in film canisters, marked by caliber. If you use the water-tight Fuji-style canisters, you can even pre-soak the patches with solvent. You can have one canister for wet patches, another for dry patches. That saves time when you’re at the range, and avoids spillage. One caution–some solvents may react with plastic, so test this first before you put a solvent-filled canister in your range kit.

4. Use film canisters to hold your neck bushings, sorted by caliber. With a permanent marking pen, you can mark the side or top of the canister with the bushing sizes, or caliber.

5. Store your favorite Bolt Grease (for rifles) or anti-seize compound (good for pistol slide rails), in the canister. You don’t need to fill it all the way up — a little dab will do ya. We only recommend this with the snap-top Fuji canisters.

6. During transport, Protect your muzzle with canisters. When shipping a rifle or barrel, slip the film canister over the muzzle, then secure it with electrical tape. This will protect the precious crown of a match barrel from dings or damage.

There are countless other uses for 35mm film canisters. We invite readers to respond with their own tips on using these handy containers. If you don’t have some stashed in your workshop already, you can get empties for free at most film processing centers. The clear plastic Fuji canisters are the best — you can see what’s inside and the lids are watertight.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 14 Comments »