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  1. #1
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    Bulk Tumbling Brass? (Help and/or advice needed)

    This is both gun related and not...at least not the specific question I am looking for information on.

    I am going to revamp my reloading set up (over time), but that process will take time and no big decisions have been made yet. I am kind of sketching ideas in my head for a long term goal of what to invest in and how to keep the messy parts outside if possible.

    I reload everything I shoot [for the most part] and I want to up my tumbling game to help with the most time consuming part, which is brass prep. I basically want to super size my ability to tumble and dry brass. What I have in mind is buying a small (or second hand) cement mixer for my bulk stuff. I can get media for it fairly cheap.

    I am not sure if the inside of a cement mixer will actually damage the brass though (possible sharp edges, rough interior etc).

    My current tumbler has a thick rubber coating on the inside of the container which I assume is for this very purpose (to prevent damaging cases).

    I am exploring options of possible materials or feasibility [or if it's even needed] to have some kind of heavy duty spray on rubber coating that I could coat the inside of the mixer with that will be durable enough to last and won't cost an arm and a leg (if it's even needed).


    For small jobs on nice brass I will still use my smaller tumbler, but for bigger jobs I want to be able to tumble a 3 or 5 gallon bucket of brass at a time.

    Any help or insight into what can work best and not come off, or what won't cost an arm and a leg, or anything else that might be helpful please chime in.

    It's not really a gun related question but that will be the ultimate end use...

  2. #2
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    Basically my end set up will probably require a few rounds of tumbling... once for the initial heavy cleaning, then another for the final job...

    My vision in my head is to create a set up where I can like once a year just clean, resize, polish, and prime* a shit load of brass.

    *Priming will be optional depending on what kind of set up I ultimately graduate to.

    But once the cases are ready and trimmed, polished up or whatnot, the rest of the process will go fairly quickly.

    That's at least the end goal for the time being.

  3. #3
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    I did a little google fu and I came up with these numbers.

    One 5 gallon bucket of .223 brass is approximately 3,700 cases and it weighs about 50 pounds.

    The stainless steel media, they recommend about 1.5 to 2 pounds of media per pound of brass. So rounding it off say 100 pounds of stainless media.

    Then add the water. One gallon of water is around 8.5 pounds.

    I am thinking about a 3.5 cubic foot cement mixer would do the trick. All together that could volume wise hold about 26 gallons of whatever.

    150 pounds of brass and media plus 5 to 6 gallons of water would put the weight on the load about 200 to 225 pounds total and take up 11 to 12 gallons of space. That would be just around or under half full if using a 3.5 cubic foot mixer.

  4. #4
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    If you decide to go with a small cement mixer, you might want to look at a spray bed liner available at auto parts stores. It should take "the edge" off the blades inside the mixer, and will give a nice textured finish to make sure everything rolls according to plan. I mostly dry tumble (pistol cases) and use Zilla Lizard Bedding for media. I also use it with Dillon case polish on rifle cases for the final shine after all the prep is done, and they are ready for prime/powder/bullets. It is walnut hulls ground finer than the media reloading supply companies use, and does not get stuck in the flash-hole. Extremely cost effective, and available at pet supply stores. Not sure how you will dry that many cases though. I have a Hornady ultrasonic I use for the initial cleaning of rifle cases, and their case dryer. The dryer holds a lot of cases, but nowhere near what you are talking about. Based on my range trips, I don't normally have more cases to prep that my stuff can handle. I try and stay ahead of the curve on cleaning brass, but tend to get behind on the actual loading.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks Jerry.

    For me, typically I reload a ton and just like spend a mad dash for a while getting all my brass ready, including priming.

    After that I will load a 3 gallon bucket up and when that gets low I just need to top it off.

    Brass prep is by far the most time consuming. 80% brass prep 20% loading.

    I store my primed brass in sealed paint buckets indoors. I've never had a single problem and it has a great shelf life.

    If I wanted to I could just load em all but for now just keeping a bunch of primed brass on hand works well.

    If I can case prep in bulk it will just cut down a substantial amount on time and hassle.

    I still have a few other things to work out like how to resize a lot in a shorter time, but even doing what I do now I can just size em on rainy days instead of watching tv. If it takes a month so be it.

    If I can figure out how to do that process faster it will be cool as well but for now it would cut down on the time quite a bit.

    As for drying we have a few options there. If I make big screens and tumble in bulk on hot days I can just go shake em up every so often and they will be fine for range ammo.

    I have other options as well.

  6. #6
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    Another benefit as I see it is I can do multiple tumbles as needed and just collect brass over time.

    Tumble a bucket enough to knock all the gunk off, resize, decap, and trim if needed then tumble again for a final polish.

    I'm definitely interested in exploring options here.

    I'm going to be an even bigger brass hoarder than I already am. LOL

  7. #7
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    I like to deprime before the first tumble to help clean out the primer pockets

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post
    I like to deprime before the first tumble to help clean out the primer pockets
    I normally do that too, but if I can tumble in bulk I can at least work with semi clean(er) brass during the process.

    After depriming everything I would do a full final tumble.

    When I stockpile enough brass I might only need to tumble once or twice a year depending on caliber.

    If I have like 20,000 pieces of cleaned and sized brass that would last me a fair amount of time.

    I basically would just need to get enough brass on hand so I could just stagger the work.

    Or I could just size and deprime brass and throw it in a bucket and just tumble it mixed and sort it out later.

    Lots of options.

  9. #9
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    Depending on what tumbler and how much brass you have I’d just keep using what you have.

    Unless we’re talking garbage cans worth of brass

  10. #10
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    Personally, I can't stand doing brass prep for probably much more than a hundred cases at a time, so I'm pretty happy to keep working in small batches and use my little HF rock tumbler. Granted, I primarily load precision ammo, not bulk.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustangfreek View Post
    Depending on what tumbler and how much brass you have I’d just keep using what you have.

    Unless we’re talking garbage cans worth of brass

    Generally for loose brass we are talking 5 gallon buckets full for each caliber. But that could go up depending.

    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post
    Personally, I can't stand doing brass prep for probably much more than a hundred cases at a time, so I'm pretty happy to keep working in small batches and use my little HF rock tumbler. Granted, I primarily load precision ammo, not bulk.
    I load precision ammo too so my little tumbler won't go away by any means.

    What this would do for me is allow me to tumble say a year's worth [or more of brass] (per caliber) in one or two afternoons and be done with it. Figure round numbers of a little less than 4000 brass cases of 223 in a bucket x2 buckets that would be almost 8 cases of loadable brass. In normal times when times are fruitful even I might shoot 3 or 4000 rounds per year. Other calibers maybe more because it's cheaper).

    Basically if I go this route my tumbling turns into a once a summer kind of deal or maybe even less than that.

    I have an organizational thing where I (try) to keep things straight... I have buckets...depending on caliber and if it's clean or dirty.

    At the end of the day the goal is to keep about a 5 gallon bucket full of cleaned, prepped and primed brass on hand so all I have to do is load powder and seat bullets.

  12. #12
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    If I could figure out a way to mechanically resize brass and deprime and all that it would cut my prep time and my total reloading time down by a lot. I would be left to concentrate on the fun and or more sensitive parts to do more manually.

    I am trying to think of ways to take a lot of the labor and time out of it.
    Last edited by alamo5000; 13 May 2019 at 08:15.

  13. #13
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    There is no way to take any labor out of reloading, besides the tumbling aspect. But the extra this, that, cement mixer to only use once a year...

    Your overthinking it.. Do a couple loads in a normal size tumbler per day and you’ll be done in no time.

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