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Rotary Tumblers with Steel Pins


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A few months ago there was a thread about the rotary tumblers that use stainless steel pins.  I bought a Frankfort Arsenal model and after several frustrating sessions finally got a reasonable method of using the thing and separating the pins.  However, counting all those pins after every session was getting annoying.  I would start with 37,965 and after a cleaning session have only 37,962.  I would spend hours with a magnet and metal detector looking for them.  I thought there has to be a better way.  I have a Dillon media separator but no matter how slow you turn the handle some pins go flying.  So I purchased a Hornady media separator with a cover that goes over the separator basket.  First photo.  My first thought when I took it out of the box is this is no Dillon.  Thin flimsy plastic.  But it looked GREAT in the YouTube videos.  Next I bought a set of strainers from Frankfort.  These were very well made and heavy duty.  Second and third photos.  I also got tired of how much Lummi Shine, too much Dawn, excess suds, etc., so I actually bought the Frankfort cleaning packets.  Very convenient and easy to use.  Photo 4.  I loaded up the tumbler with brass, tossed in the cleaning packet and let her rip for two hours.  Brass was super clean and shiny and the strainer kept all the pins inside the tumbler when the water was drained.  Refilled the tumbler to rinse, drained, done.  I am not sure how many megabites of info you can post in one post so I will continue in a part two below.

 

 

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I am use to the Dillon equipment so I dumped in about 1,000 cases, i.e., I filled the lower half of the Hornady basket to the top.  Put on the upper half of the basket, put on the top and started to turn the handle.  No go it just bent and flexed.  With five pounds of pins and 1,000 cases the thing was overwhelmed.  After very slowly turning the handle and holding it to help reduce the flex.  As the pins fell out it turned easier and no pins went flying as the lid did contain them.  Partial success.  After dumping the brass I took a closer look at the separator basket.  Thin plastic with no reinforcments.  Photo five.  I took off the handle to see if I could drill the handle stub for a steel rod.  No dice because of the way the handle is connected to the stub.  Photo 6.  I decided to try putting a steel bar inside the basket to stiffen it as most of the flex was from the handle stub twisting the thin side walls of the basket.  Photo 7.  That eliminated about 90% of the flex.  The easy solution would be to simply put less brass in the basket but that ain't the cowboy way.  For a brass dryer (another accessory you can buy) I put the brass in a Tupperware tub and set it in the 106 degree, low humidity sun.  When the Tupperware started getting soft they were done.  When all done I had 37,964 pins.  Much improved.

 

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Edited by Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933
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Quickie comparison.  Dillon separator.  Steel rod/handle that connects the sides of the basket.  The basket material is also at least four times thicker.

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I imagine you've already spent all the money you're interested in for this pursuit, but years ago I bought the kit from Stainless Tumbling Media which included their tumbler and media separator. I really couldn't be happier with it; the whole ensemble works wonderfully and very few pins are let loose unless I get clumsy while transferring them from the separator back into the tumbler. Here's the media separator: Stainless Tumbling Media | STM Media Separator

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Don’t use pins, use Stratosheen instead.

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1 hour ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

Quickie comparison.  Dillon separator.  Steel rod/handle that connects the sides of the basket.  The basket material is also at least four times thicker.

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That Dillon separator is what I use when I use pins.  After the cleaning cycle, I just dump everything into a 5 gal bucket, do my rinse, then slowly pour brass into the separator.  Most of the pins will stay in the 5 gal bucket.  Then I dump pins into a large pan to dry.  Most of the time I don't even use pins.  Just brass and water and 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn soap and enough Lummi shine to fill a 9mm case.  Two hours of the brass rolling around against themselves produces vey shiny brass

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Those pesky pins escape everywhere, they will float on the soap bubbles.  I use a mechanics magnet on a stick to pick them up.  I use a RCBS rotating media separator, with the bottom cut out and place a nylon paint strainer over a 5 gal. pail and put the media separator on the pail, the pins (most of them) drop into the paint strainer, I rinse the soap off the brass while turning and spinning the brass over the 5 gal. pail.  It works for me.  When all the pins are in the strainer, rinse the remaining soap off of the pins, I hang the whole set up to dry.  I use the mechanics magnet to find the pins that have escaped into the dirty water, before pouring the water down the drain.

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6 minutes ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

 

SO.  Just how long does it take with tweezers to count all them thousands of little pins ??  Week and feeble'd minds wanna know.

 

Really??

 

As I dry each pin with a paper towel I count them as I toss them into the tumbler.  Takes a lot longer than cleaning the brass.

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1 minute ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

 

 

As I dry each pin with a paper towel I count them as I toss them into the tumbler.  Takes a lot longer than cleaning the brass.

You need to sort them by weight :lol:

OLG 

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4 hours ago, Yul Lose said:

Don’t use pins, use Stratosheen instead.

 

No media of any kind?

 

Just water, Stratosheen, and brass?

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1 hour ago, Cemetery said:

 

No media of any kind?

 

Just water, Stratosheen, and brass?

Water, quarter teaspoon Lemishine, tablespoon Dawn, 1 tablespoon Strato Sheen, no pins.

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Just now, Yul Lose said:

Water, quarter teaspoon Lemishine, tablespoon Dawn, 1 tablespoon Strato Sheen, no pins.

I took Yul's advice and tried this and love it. Works fantastic. And by the way, thanks again Yul!

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Question for the pin-less wet tumbler users.

Are the insides of the cases just as shiny?

 

I use pins with cascade dishwashing soap.

Rinse then no pins using auto wash-n-wax with leminshine.

 

Outsides sparkle along with 95+% of the insides.

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9 minutes ago, wyliefoxEsquire said:

Question for the pin-less wet tumbler users.

Are the insides of the cases just as shiny?

 

I use pins with cascade dishwashing soap.

Rinse then no pins using auto wash-n-wax with leminshine.

 

Outsides sparkle along with 95+% of the insides.

Who cares what the insides look like? I don’t. When SASS starts breaking down ammo to see how shiny the inside of the brass is it might matter. 

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41 minutes ago, DeaconKC said:

I took Yul's advice and tried this and love it. Works fantastic. And by the way, thanks again Yul!

 

Add me to the ever growing list of Yul's converts. After discovering Strat O Sheen I'll never go back to pins. 

 

P.S.  Even the Lemi-Shine isn't necessary unless you have hard water.  

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39 minutes ago, wyliefoxEsquire said:

Question for the pin-less wet tumbler users.

Are the insides of the cases just as shiny?

 

I use pins with cascade dishwashing soap.

Rinse then no pins using auto wash-n-wax with leminshine.

 

Outsides sparkle along with 95+% of the insides.

No, the insides aren't as clean, but certainly clean enough to run and load without a worry.

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3 minutes ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

Hmm, what about Strat O Sheen and pins? :P

Yer pins will get shiny too.

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1 hour ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

Hmm, what about Strat O Sheen and pins? :P

 

So - just how long has it been raining there ?? Must be days or weeks. ;)

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Couple of tips.

DO NOT use Lemi-Shine on nickel cases. It causes all the brass cases to come out dull looking.

 

I use an Frankford Arsonal tumbler now being as my used Thumlers drum has about had it.  Use a RCBS media separator to separate the pins from the brass. I have discovered that while the FA tumbler will handle lots of brass I get an 100% success rate of getting all the pins out of the brass if I only tumble 250 to 300 cases at a time. So even though I may fill the tumbler, I rinse the brass in small batches.

 

Full the tub with water till most of the brass is covered. Push around by hand till most of the pins have fallen out of the basket. I found turning the basket at a moderate speed works the best. The idea being that as the basket turns the cases fill with water and then rise up out of the water; as they do so the water in the case runs out carrying the pins with it. 

 

I don't particularly like the pins that came with the FA tumbler as compared to the ones I bough several years ago when I first started wet tumbling. The newer pins are smaller, different lengths, and tend to bounce more than the first pins I bought. Wish I could remember where I bought them. 

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I was fortunate enough to come across Yul’s post on Strato Sheen when I first started shooting CAS and wet tumbling.  It has made things really easy.  I just processed some brass this weekend and there were a couple of really nasty tarnished pieces that must have been on the range in the elements for long while.  Used Yul’s mixture and all came out looking like new.  Besides the mix the key is to let them tumble for awhile.. My process is:

  1.  Tumble with warm water and a squirt of dawn to remove gross contamination (mud, grit, etc) for 1 hour or whatever you have patience for.  
  2. Pour off the water and refill with Yul’s mixture and tumble for about 2.5 hours
  3. Pour off the mixture and refill with warm water only and do about an hour of tumble rinsing to remove any leftover residue.
  4. Set out to dry on a cookie sheet.

While it sounds like a long process the actual time spent “hands on” is very minimal.  I hope this helps someone.  Thanks Yul for the great contribution of knowledge!

Edited by David Cardin
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12 minutes ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

How long do you run the tumbler with this solution? 

OLG 

2 hours

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A batch of Cowboy .45 Special fresh out of the tumbler, no pins, no ceramic media. Dawn, Strato Sheen, Lemishine and water. 2.5 hours.

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Edited by Yul Lose
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I use Yul's method, but I use twice as much Strato-Sheen as Yul and I run them at least 3 hours.

 

My brass is just as shinny as Larsen's.  I got sick of dealing with the SS pins. 

 

Run a batch without pins and see what think.

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Install an eccentric lobe on the motor so the machine vibrates.  Then, substitute ground corn cob for the steel pins.  I think you'll really have something.  An additional benifit is, you don't have to count the cob grains.  Bon chance.

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