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).