Is ultrasonic cleaner the way to go?

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by X-47B, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. X-47B

    X-47B X-III:XVI Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2018
    Messages:
    719
    I currently use a traditional tumbler. But it seems the rotary tumblers and ultrasonic do a much better job. Not cleaning large volumes or brass. May be 100 lapua cases at a time after a BR match. Any advise? I like the idea of it not taking 3 hours and having to deal with all the dust.

    If ultra sonic is the way to go, which one? Looking for affordable but reliable.

    Thanks.
     
    LGKLAS and SPJ like this.
  2. bsekf

    bsekf

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Messages:
    602
    I have all three. Ultrasonic is useful for lots of things besides brass. SS pins do the best job. Sometimes just a good shake in hot water and Dawn. Sometimes just a wipe off with a shop rag and brake cleaner. I have Harbor Freight, be careful with hot water in the SS pin drum. The top will pop off!
     
  3. NorCalMikie

    NorCalMikie Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,518
    Tried the Ultrasonic. Took too long and didn't get my brass as clean as my Thumblers Tumbler and Corn Cobb.
    Stainless Steel pins get the job done BUT, too long in the tub will show excessive wear. (gold dust on the tub rim):eek: Maybe every 4th or 5th time in the SS pins?
    I'll stick with the untreated corn cobb and my Thumblers Tumbler.;)
    Untreated walnut media is good if you don't mind picking media out of the flash holes. I don't and it gives me one more chance to inspect my brass for defects BEFORE I start reloading. Better to see it NOW than at the range.:rolleyes:
    And new brass doesn't come with polish on them so untreated media is the way I go. YMMV.
     
    Zero333, Sandstorm and X-47B like this.
  4. Ccrider

    Ccrider Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2012
    Messages:
    733
    Ultrasonic cleans in a relatively short time. 20 minutes or so. It does not shine as good as walnut media, but does a good job.

    You can by one on ebay for less than one hundred bucks. Get a bottle of cleaning solution and you are ready to go.

    Also, there is an article on this site that gives a very good vetting of different cleaning methods and steps to take if you want the most shine. Well worth the read if you have not used an ultrasonic cleaner. However, when it’s all said and done, it’s quicker just to dump a cap full of cleaner into a quart or so of distilled water, drop your cases in, flip the timer and 20 minutes later you have clean cases. You can let them go longer if needed.

    https://www.accurateshooter.com/technical-articles/ultrasonic-case-cleaning/

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-3L-Ult...811226&hash=item1a78b6feb2:g:l2oAAOSwxQpbcTn-


    https://rcbs.com/Products/Case-Prep...Ultrasonic-Rotary-Case-Cleaning-Solution.aspx
     
    LGKLAS and X-47B like this.
  5. WIB3

    WIB3

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    64
    The ultrasonic cleaning is more for removing carbon buildup. The harbor freight unit is cheap and does a good job. When new take some bathroom caulk and seal between the tank and the plastic top. Will prevent cleaning solutions from leaking into the electrical components when you empty out the unit. Two tablespoons of fruit fresh (citric acid) which can be purchased from any grocery store will remove carbon with out damage to the cases or muzzle breaks. $3 per bottle. To get the shine, vibratory with corn cob media and a couple drops of Flitz. My media is over 10 years old.
     
    X-47B likes this.
  6. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    579
    Having owned and used all 3 extensively, I'd stick with what you're currently using.
     
    vahena and X-47B like this.
  7. pirate ammo

    pirate ammo Guaranteed to take the wind out of their sails Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2017
    Messages:
    2,686
    I use treated cob in my tumbler, clean it up then size and deprime, throw it my sonic to clean off the case lube and clean out the primer pockets. Everybody has a different
    way of doing things.
     
    LGKLAS and X-47B like this.
  8. marchboom

    marchboom

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Messages:
    82
    My procedure is:
    Deprime cases.
    Soak in ultrasonic cleaner with Lemishine (1/4 teaspoon to 1 pt water) & a few drops of Dawn for 1 hr. You would be surprised what comes off in this machine.
    Dry in Lyman Cyclone dryer for 1 hr (all 5 trays of 308 dry in 1 hr).
    Tumble in vibratory machine for 90 mins. I use fine walnut shells.
    About as clean and shiny as you could ask for.
     
    X-47B likes this.
  9. blastit37

    blastit37

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    And with ultra sonic, if you want carbon in the necks, just fill the solution up to the neck and leave it sticking out. 10 minutes and the primer pockets are spotless, rinse in baking soda then clean water and blow dry with air compressor and let set for a day (or use heat for instant use) and you are ready to go. If the outside of the neck needs cleaning, 0000 steel wool only takes seconds.
    The only negative was the electronics died after about 6 months. I direct wired the system and it has vibrated for the last 5 years.
     
    dmoran likes this.
  10. Ccrider

    Ccrider Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2012
    Messages:
    733
    @blastit37
    What are you using to hold your cases upright?
     
  11. LGKLAS

    LGKLAS

    Joined:
    May 19, 2018
    Messages:
    92
    I use the ultrasonic method, Harbor Freight's and Lyman's Turbo brass cleaner. To me, it is less messy than dealing with corn cob or walnut media, nor do I have to take effort to get those media types out of my brass's insides, primer pockets , primer holes. & quieter operation. And takes less time. 24 minutes time in the machine, three 480 second cycles, then drying. I rinse them, lay them out on paper towels, shake out any excess water, then put them on a tray and into a toaster oven at 350 for a few minutes. Take them out. Put them upside down on a drying stand made of a 2 by and 50 small nails. Like you, I do small batches of brass at a time. Between 20 and up to 50.
     
  12. Texas10

    Texas10 Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2016
    Messages:
    1,478
    I'm using the H.F. rock tumbler with Sleeping Giant ss chips, RCBS Ultra Sonic cleaner, I like this because it's concentrated. Add 2 oz per gallon of water which I keep in jugs premixed. Just fill and go, rinse in a bucket so I don't lose anything, dry on towel, and in the winter a hot box using a hair dryer if need be.

    If I added it all up, I probably spend about 30 seconds total labor on each cartridge case, including de-capping, sizing and SS cleaning, maybe up to 45 seconds including trimming and chamfering/deburring and salt bath annealing.
     
  13. Dusty Stevens

    Dusty Stevens COVFEFE- Thread Derail Crew Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    13,460
    B7DCDB16-67B1-4479-8BF5-EBD81811CF93.jpeg

    Baby bottle drying rack. Flea market or yard sale if you dont feel like dropping $20 at target. Imagine how many cases will fit on one of these!
     
    Zero333 and Sandstorm like this.
  14. Shinbone

    Shinbone

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Messages:
    120
    I just started reloading about six months ago, and went through figuring out how to clean the cases. In the end, I chose ultrasonic cleaning, because it cleans the primer pockets, doesn’t beat the brass up, I don’t have to worry about cleaning media stuck in the case, is quicker, and less messy than the other methods. 30 minutes in the ultrasonic bath with a capful of RCBS cleaner solution, and the brass emerges sparkly clean. No disappoints with my choice.
     
  15. eas1949

    eas1949

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2017
    Messages:
    113
    Mine is similar. I de-prime then a quick scrape of the primer pockets then into the ultrasonic with the dawn and lemishine. Blow through the primer pockets with compressor and into the Lyman Cyclone. Then size with imperial and back into the ultrasonic with dawn only to remove sizing lube. Then final drying.

    Eric
     
  16. 46and2

    46and2

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
    Messages:
    183
    I used to sonic clean every time, mostly to clean primer pockets.
    I've come full circle and do not sonic clean at all anymore. I choose to keep the carbon residue inside the necks as a barrier between brass and copper. This has enabled me to realize much lower ES/ SD than with squeaky clean necks.

    Also, if you load rounds well in advance the carbon prevents "cold bolding".
    If you insist on sonic cleaning, consider using Imperial neck lube ( graphite).
     
    NorCalMikie and MikeMcCasland like this.
  17. Madang185

    Madang185

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2019
    Messages:
    6
    Use Jewelry ultrasonic cleaner off e-bay for smaller amounts of cases. 1X Pint clean water +_1/2 teaspoon
    of citric acid + 1/2 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar + unscientific squirt of household detergent. Dry naturally and 20 minutes in tumbler.
    Roscoe
     
  18. shoot4fun

    shoot4fun Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Messages:
    1,423
    I notice that when I ultrasonic clean brass, dry it and load it that a sooty mess comes out of all the cases; in flakes. I have the big Hot Tub and it's very useful for other things.
    I would rather use a Thumbler's B without SS media for about 1.5 hours in a solution of Dawn and Lemishine. Brass is usually spotless inside and out.
    As stated above, with my method, SS media or ultrasonic it is good to use Imperial dry lube during the loading process.
     
  19. blastit37

    blastit37

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Ccrider: I use 400ml beakers suspended in the cleaner with the wire holder what came with the machine. Best not to let the beakers touch the bottom. Mine holds 2 beakers. The beakers hold around 15 to 20 rounds depending on the caliber. For cleaning media, I went on line and found critic acid in 10 lb bags for about 25 bucks, lasts a long time. Make a saturated concentration, usually a couple of table spoonfulls then a couple of squrts of dish washing liquid for each beaker. I mix and save it in a plastic jug (peanuts came it) and it lasts about 3 cleaning cycles until it gets really dirty then throw on something I want to get rid of in the garden. BTW that citric acid makes really good lemonaid with a little sweetner.
     
    Ccrider likes this.
  20. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2016
    Messages:
    867
    Wet tumble with SS pins, solvent and Lemishine
     

Share This Page