Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reloading Toy

I don't know how many took advantage of this, but last month, all Hornady dealers dropped the price on their ultrasonic cleaners - I assume that Hornady set that up.  So I picked up one of these on an after Christmas order. 
It arrived last Friday, and I finally got a chance to use it yesterday, after our range trip on Monday - I didn't have any brass to clean until then. 

It's a little funky to use.  The timer goes up to 480 seconds (8 minutes) in odd increments (100 seconds?), but it's easy to use.  The instructions say you'll typically need 3 cycles. After cleaning up the .38 special brass, I went to dump it in with matching brass I had tumbled in corn cob media and suddenly realized the old stuff wasn't clean enough.  So it went into the ultrasonic.  Then I took a look at the 45 ACP I had tumbled.  It went into the ultrasonic. I haven't looked at anything else I've already tumbled - I think I know what that answer is going to be. 

I bet this is another symptom of Attention Surplus Syndrome.  Any of you reloaders experienced this?


  1. Well, I have had one of those for some time. It is a re branded jewelry cleaner. It does work well, but I have ASS too. I bought the Magnum one with a heater and larger capacity. I can get pistols into it!

    They both work great as far as I am concerned.

  2. I typically leave my cases in my Lyman vibratory tumbler for 24+ hours, so although I might well see a difference, I haven't yet been tempted.

    But that was before I started loading 45-110. Folks who shoot black powder in this caliber swear you need to clean the inside of your brass more thoroughly than usual. (I'm using Blackhorn 209, which is supposed to be a non-corrosive black powder substitute).

    The brass is almost three inches long, so I'm thinking the tumbler may not clean the inside of the cases the way an ultrasonic unit would. Being away from home in our RV, I didn't bring the tumbler, so I am currently scrubbing out the brass cases with bore brushes and mops. I'm not shooting hundreds of rounds of this stuff, but the brass is $2 a pop, so I want to take god care of it. Does that meet the criteria?

    Maybe I'll shop around for one of these.

  3. Keads - do you put a complete pistol in it? I mean drop in your full sized, fully assembled pistol and let 'er rip? Can you say more?

    And Reg - the deal on this was $80 with regular price right around $100. I see it's still $80 on Natchez Shooters Supply There's a company selling a tumbling system that uses thin stainless pins and a rockhound style Tumbler in a wet process like jewelery manufacturers use to polish new castings. This is more expensive, but produces some really pretty brass. I don't know which would work better in those long Sharps cartidges.

    I wonder if some Hoppes 9 would work in the ultrasonic cleaning brew? Sounds like an experiment waiting to happen!

  4. Some of the Shiloh shooters swear by a ceramic pellet wet system that Shiloh sells which sounds similar. It is pretty expensive, though, so I haven't tried it yet.

    You being an engineer, I've got a question: Does it seem possible that ultrasonic vibration might work the brass, eventually hardening it?

  5. Reg, as someone who took one class on materials over 20 years ago I probably shouldn't comment. I don't think so, and don't see how you could generate enough impact to really have an effect.

    As I remember that stuff, metals have a stress/strain curve that starts out linear and then goes nonlinear. Small strains (stretching) will just elastically restore themselves. Over that linear range, if you stretch it, the metal acts like a spring and returns to the original shape. You have to pull on it until it no longer goes back to the original size to work harden it; hardening comes from plastic deformation, not elastic stretching.

    The real cause of work hardening is the plastic shape changes to the shell when you fire the gun and then when you cram a bullet into the brass. You stretch the brass and change its dimensions (plastic deformation) every time you do that. You'll have to anneal because of that long before micro shocks from ultrasound would do anything.

    I think that a million small stretches like you might get from a million ultrasonic impacts won't have a cumulative effect, but I know that's true for steel, but not for aluminum. Don't know about brass.

    But it's an interesting question and I thought about it a lot today, when work was boring. Lately, that's most of the time.

  6. Check your local Harbor Freight/Cummins Industrial Tools type stores for the same cleaner with the Hornady name for about a quarter of that price.

  7. Greybeard- I disassemble the pistol and dump the parts into the ultrasonic for cleaning. I use the Blackwater, no, US Training Center, no, whatever unicorns and rainbows named outfit it is now in Moyock, NC method for deep cleaning firearms. Learned it in the Armorer class there.

    Here is a link to my latest effort. Hit the previous post link for the good stuff.

    I use a 50/50 mix of simple green and distilled water to clean. Then rinse with water and then hose down with your favorite brand of CLP stuff. I usually let it soak for a day or two, wipe down, reassemble and ta da! I am impressed with this method but after cleaning everything is totally degreased. My method may be considered time consuming and wrong, but I cannot argue with results!

    Bonus points for cleaning brass on the kitchen counter that is quiet enough to watch TV 15 feet away with no dry media to worry about getting out of the cases.

    Shoot me an email if you would like to talk about it sometime, I will give you my phone #.