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October 8th, 2020

Wet-Tumbling Cartridge Brass — Tips for Great Results

Cartridge brass case tumbler thumblers wet brass stainless media lapua cleaning

Ace tactical shooter and gunsmith Jim See of Elite Accuracy LLC recently tested a Frankford Arsenal rotary brass tumbler. Like the older Thumbler’s Tumblers, this can tumble your cases in a liquid solution. The wet-tumbling process worked very well Jim reports. Posting on Facebook, Jim noted: “I was super impressed with the Frankford Arsenal rotary tumbler and cleaning packs they sent me. I ran 350 pieces of brass for one hour. They now look great.” Jim appreciated not having to deal with dry tumbling media, such as crushed walnut shells. Dry media produces dust and can leave residues or clog flash-holes.

Cartridge brass case tumbler thumblers Frankford Arsenal wet brass stainless media lapua cleaning

Interestingly, Jim recommends you try wet-tumbling WITHOUT using stainless media. At least give it a try. Tumbling without media simplifies the process and you don’t have to worry about pins stuck in flash-holes or case-necks*. Jim reports: “Stainless steel pins come with the Frankford kit, but mine hit the trash right out of the box. There is no need to clean the inside of your cases 100% and that’s all the pins add to the equation. The brass bumping brass with hot water and Frankford’s liquid cleaner works great all by itself.” One wag stated: “That’s great to hear. Stainless steel pins are a PITA.”

Other Facebook posters concurred with Jim’s evaluation of the Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler:

“I’ve had one for a couple years, and it works well. I usually run about 250-300 Dasher cases at once in it. But I use the pins because I’m OCD about clean brass.” — David W.

“I’ve had one for a year and a half and it definitely works with or without pins.” — Luke C.

“I got one about six months ago and have yet to use any SS media. I just use some dawn, distilled water, and Lemi Shine®. Turns nasty 5.56 range brass bright and shiny.” — Brian D.

“I don’t use the pins either and use a combination of Dawn soap and Lemi Shine.” — Jon N.G.

This video shows how to assemble and operate the Frankford rotary tumbler. NOTE That Jim See does NOT feel that it is necessary to use stainless media.

How to Dry Your Brass — Hair Dryer Vs. Machine

The downside of wet tumbling is that you end up with a pile of wet brass at the end of the cleaning cycle. There are many ways to dry brass, from drying in the sun to using a kitchen oven (be careful not to “overcook” your brass). One Facebook poster asked Jim: “What is your drying method for wet brass, and how long does it take?”

Jim See replied: “To start I just drain off the dirty water, and rinse the brass with clean hot water. Then I roll the brass on a towel for 30 seconds and put the brass in a one-gallon bucket. Next I insert a hair dryer in the bucket (with the brass) and let it run for about 5 minutes. With this procedure, the drying process for me is done in less than 10 minutes.”

Jack Lanhart has another method: “I use a food dehydrator. It takes 30 to 45 minutes.”

Cartridge brass case tumbler thumblers wet brass Frankford Arsenal stainless media lapua cleaning dryer dyhydrator frankford Lyman Cyclone

For those who don’t want to mess with towels and hair dryers, Frankford Arsenal offers a matching Platinum Series Case Dryer that simplifies the process of drying brass. Lyman also makes an excellent Cyclone Case Dryer. Both drying machines cost about $60.00 and both have multiple levels so you can separate different types of cartridge brass. Lyman states that “The forced heated air circulation of the Cyclone will dry your brass inside and out within an hour or two, with no unsightly water spots.” The Lyman dryer can also be used for ultrasonically-cleaned gun parts.

Cyclone Lyman Case cartridge dryer dehydrator


*The Frankford Rotary tumbler does include media separators if you choose to use the provided pins or other media. CLICK HERE for diagram showing how to use media separators.

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January 19th, 2020

TOP TEN Methods to Dry Cartridge Brass after Wet Cleaning

Wet Tumbling Brass Drier

Many shooters these days clean their cartridge brass ultrasonically, or wet-tumble their cases with stainless media (above). Both methods get brass clean and shiny, inside and out. However, when those wet-cleaning processes are completed, you’re left with a pile of soaking wet brass. How do you dry your brass quickly and efficiently, without unsightly water spots? Read on for some great answers…

In our Shooters’ Forum, Forum Gold Member Terry asked: “How do you dry your brass after Ultrasonic cleaning?” In an interesting Reloading Forum Thread, many smart suggestions were posted. A dozen fellow members outlined a variety of effective case-drying procedures, which work equally well for both wet-tumbled brass and ultrasonically-cleaned cases. Here are the Top 10 brass-drying suggestions from our Forum members.

TOP TEN Ways to Dry Cartridge Brass After Wet Cleaning

1. Food Dehydrator — Shake the brass in towel to get the bulk of water off. Next leave in the food dehydrator for 45 minutes or until there are no signs of moisture inside the cases. — Lawrence97

2. Lyman 5-Level Case Dryer — Rinse off cleaning solution(s), then load brass by type into racks in Lyman Cyclone Case Dryer. This is easier to load/unload than food dehydrators and holds more cases.

Lyman Cyclone Case Drier

3. Hot Water + Compressed Air — Rinse all your cases as a batch using scalding hot water from the kitchen sink. Hot water evaporates off of brass very very quickly. Then hit them with compressed air. Takes 10 minutes. Simple. — SG4247

4. Oven Dry in Pre-Heated Oven — After pre-heating to 200° or so, turn off oven and put brass inside on a tray. Most important! Tell your wife what you are doing so she doesn’t crank it up to 425 to heat pizza! — MClark

NOTE: Many other members suggested oven drying at 150-200°. We recommend turning OFF the oven so you don’t cook your brass if you forget to remove the cases.

Dry Cartridge Brass heat gun5. Towel Dry then Warm with Heat Gun — Roll brass in a towel until no more water shakes out. Lay out on cardboard box top and blow off with Harbor Freight heat gun. $9.99 on coupon. Two minutes of heated air and about half hour of wait and they are good to go. This is with primers removed. — Shaggy357

6. Compressed Air, then Sun Dry Outside – I rinse the brass, then blow them out with compressed air. Then, dependent on the time of year, lay them on a towel in the sun. — HogPatrol

7. Dishwasher on Dry Cycle – In the winter, I drop my wet brass cases neck-down on the rack pegs in the dishwasher, then turn on the dry cycle. In the summer…well, I’m in Texas. They go to the porch for a bit. — Toolbreaker

8. Alcohol Rinse then Air or Oven Dry — Rinse in 90% Isopropyl alcohol and either let air dry or stick in 175° oven for half an hour. Alternatively, use a dehydrator. — Zipollini

9. Slow Air-Dry in Loading Blocks — I have a reloading block with holes drilled in it. I simply load the block up and let it air-dry in the cupboard for a couple of days. — JCS

10. Wipe with Towel Then Anneal Normally — This thread is stirring my OCD side. Seems complicated for just drying — my brass dries just fine when I anneal it. This entire process can’t take an hour per batch. When finished, the brass is cleaned, annealed, and ready to size. — CHLuke

  • Deprime, then tumble brass with stainless media, water, Lemishine, and dish detergent.
  • Shake them easily in a strainer to knock out most media then grab 4-5 pieces, shake them over the bucket for the last of the media then inside a towel.
  • Finally blow out the primer pockets and wipe with a towel, load in the Annealeez.

Wet Tumbling Brass Drier

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