Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cleaning cases with plastic pellets as tumbler media

I've always experimented with tumbler media for cleaning cases. The normal ground corn cob and crushed walnut, with all the usual compounds have been tried.

Also.... some others.

White rice, both whole and cracked. Whole wheat grains, and cracked wheat. Popcorn grains also (crazy idea). All of the above were tried dry, with rouge, with car wax, and with solvent.

This week I tried something new to me. Plastic pellets made for lapidary tumbling. Sold by Jesco in 1, 5, and 25 pound containers, these things are quite effective. I suspect they can be had at any lapidary supply store, or shops that sell rock tumbling supplies.

The pellets are actually more expensive than high grade crushed walnut, but I think there might still be some magic here. My thinking is, if they are nothing but solid plastic, then why can't I simply wash them when they get too dirty to use?
Rather than buy 20lbs of walnut a year, I can buy a bucket of these pellets and use them... well.... forever.

Follow me here..... once they get grunged, I dump them in a pot with hot soapy water and swish them around till fairly clean. Drain in a colander, rinse in clean water, and lay them out to dry.

Is there any reason I can't reuse them till they wear out?

As for effectiveness at cleaning, the photos tell the tale. This
batch of pellets has a spritz of
Ballistol solvent and lubricant.
It served to break up the carbon and nastiness, and as the photos show it was more than up to the job. Since it's not a petroleum based solvent, and I used such a tiny amount, residue on the case is not an issue.

This time I did a batch of .38 cases I'll be reloading for my best friend. Both nickel and brass, but I saved a few out of the batch as comparison. Here they are photographed and labeled for your enjoyment and judgment. They were tumbled in the vibratory polisher for almost exactly one hour to get this level of polish. Only one hour, where the walnut would have taken twice as much time.

I'll report back as the experiment continues, but I think this might be a pretty trick setup for polishing brass with larger case mouths (9mm and up).


immagikman said...

One has to ask....how much is a "Tiny" amount?

Us noobs would like to know how much of agent A goes with how much compund B


Carteach0 said...

Well... is has a pump sprayer and I gave it two pumps for the whole polisher full. That is as close as I came to measuring.

JAFO said...

I've been using NuFinish car wax as a cleaner polish and it works GREAT. One capful to the batch, whenever it is needed (about every 3rd go of 600 cases of 9mm).

I wonder if plastic airsoft pellets would work as a media? I have a ton of them, I see an experiment coming up

Somerled said...

Thanks for the report, carteach. Are the plastic pellets small enough to enter .224 necks and then lodge?

Carteach0 said...

Jafo: Airsoft pellets? Hmmm.... No idea. Give them a try! They are pretty large though... The ones I tried here are quite a bit smaller, and solid enough they won't float in water.

Somerled: I used them with 8mm cases and they did tend to bunch up inside the case a lot more than crushed walnut. I made sure to hand dump each case before I sized them. It added a few minutes to the batch, but not a lot.
.224 necked cases... I have no doubt would be a bear to get the pellets out of. I can try a few, but I think I know the results already :-(

Somerled said...

I'll have to look through the Kramer Industries, Inc., catalog to see the various sizes and diameters of its plastic beads. They ship in 50-lb. boxes.

I'll look up that company on your box, too. Thanks for the tip, carteach.

Anonymous said...

I work on oil-field drilling rigs. We sometimes use the beads to act as "ball-bearings" between the drill pipe and borehole wall. They are considered to be expensive, but they are buying tons of this stuff at a time. I'll check with the vendors and see if we can't buy some from them. I'm sure it would be alot cheaper.


phlegmfatale said...

Wow - lapidary pellets - I knew I recognized those things! I have steel shot for tumbling my jewelry, but I've seen the pellets at the lab where I learned fabrications. I love the idea of an overlap in skill/tool sets.

Carteach0 said...

Yup Phlegmy, and I'm having lustful thoughts towards a diamond saw here...

I spy some investigations in the near future..... :-)

DirtCrashr said...

Someone sells ceramic pellet-things that are supposed to be good forever - but only in a rotary tumbler, and you have to watch-out for lodging in the case necks and flash-holes...

Anonymous said...

I wonder how hdpe(hidensity polyethelene) pellets would work. I have a few contacts in the injectionmoulding industry.