One of Sir Knight's favorite pastimes is reloading. He has been reloading for years, hauling his Dillion RL 550 B from Western Washington to the heart of the American Redoubt. He has set up his gear in the drafty basement of a late 1800's house, the dark office of a large heated shop, on a workbench in a 40' shipping container and now, in a small niche of our shouse bedroom. He has reloaded untold rounds of .223, .308, .45ACP, 9MM and .45 Long Colt - and even a few rounds of .300 Winchester Magnum and 35 Wheelan. He has reloaded with Maid Elizabeth at his knee, followed by Master Hand Grenade, Miss Serenity, Princess Dragon Snack and now, Master Calvin. He has allowed countless young men to spend hours on our shooting range, having them police the brass afterwards and then sitting them down at the reloader to replace what they shot. Not only is Sir Knight an advocate of reloading, he is also a teacher and mentor to those who have the desire to reload.
Over the years we have accumulated a LOT of brass, much of it coming off the range, tarnished and corroded. Sir Knight has always used a vibrating tumbler to clean his brass. Although it worked (mostly), it took about 6 to 8 hours to tumble relatively clean brass and 24 hours to clean tarnished brass. Unfortunately, some of the range brass we've collected has been so tarnished that it was (according to Sir Knight's standards) unsalvageable. Hating to throw any brass away, Sir Knight began searching for a better way to tumble casings.
|Lone .223 brass|
Knowing he wanted to try the wet tumbler (the rock tumbler uses water and stainless steel media instead of dry walnut or corncob media), the kids and I pooled our pennies and bought one for Sir Knight for his birthday. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with his new tumbler. I love it because Sir Knight loves it. He loves how quickly it cleans brass and how well it shines up really tarnished brass. My hate relationship? I never knew Sir Knight had SO much brass! Please! Just a moment of peace!!
STM sells a Basic reloading kit which includes the Extreme Tumblers Rebel 17, five pounds of stainless steel media and a bottle of Lemishine detergent. They also sell a Deluxe kit which includes everything in the basic kit along with an STM media separator. We just bought the tumbler and media (we purchased the Lemishine at Walmart) and Sir Knight uses his old media separator.
STM did all of the homework and came up with a winning formula for their tumbler. Basically, the tumbler is rated for 17 pounds (total capacity) which equals 5 pounds of stainless steel media, 1 gallon of water (8 pounds) and 4 pounds of dirty brass (the weight depends on the caliber - it's approximately 275 - 300 rounds of .223). Opening the tumbler, you put your brass in, 1 gallon of water (approximately 1" from the top of the tumbler), 2 tablespoons of Dawn dishwashing liquid, 1/4 teaspoon of Lemishine (available at Walmart). Make sure you don't use any more Lemishine - too much citric acid will tarnish the brass. Seal the tumbler and tumble for 1 hour. If your brass is black and tarnished, tumble for 3 to 4 hours, changing the water half way through (and adding new Lemishine and detergent). After the brass has been thoroughly cleaned pour the water out of the tumbler and rinse several times until the water runs clear. Dump the brass and media into your media separator (fill the separator with water) and rotate to separate the media from the brass. Pour the brass onto a kitchen towel and dry. There are several methods for drying, ranging from sun drying to drying in a dehydrator. Our method of choice at the moment is drying on a kitchen towel in our wood cook stove's warming oven (it generally takes 1 hour, depending on how hot the stove is). One thing to note is that the Lemishine softens the water and prevents water spots from forming on the brass. Another thing Sir Knight is experimenting with is using Armor-all Wash and Shine instead of Dawn dishwashing detergent (use the same amount). The Armor-all is the equivalent of putting a polish in your dry media tumbler.
|Taking the top off the tumbler|
|The inner seal|
|Stainless Steel Media|
|Dirty brass goes in....|
|Add Lemishine, Detergent and Water|
|The water after an hour in the tumbler|
|Media Separator full of water|
|Pouring in the cleaned brass|
|The Media has been separated|
|Media in the bottom|
|Clean brass on a kitchen towel|
|Master Calvin helping to get the media back into the tumbler|
|Drying in the Cook Stove|
|The single .223 casing|
|Look at that shine!!|