Getting corn cob media out of .223

richc

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DOH... I am a dumbass...

I bought some corn cob media, aka Lizard Litter, at Walmart recently. With 500 brass cases lubed, decapped and resized I threw them in the Dillon vibratory thingy with the corn cob media, a little Nufinish and a little mineral spirits, and let them run to get the lube off.

CRAP... I fell asleep and they ran all night. First the good news... I've never seen brass so clean and shiny. Now the bad news... the cases and primer pockets are packed with media.

So I'm wondering there is some creative way to clean them out without doing it one at a time? I threw the cases back Dillon tumbler without any media and got some cleaned out, but not a lot. I have some other thoughts:

- Put them in the oven and bake the corn cob crap, drying it out so that it might disintegrate to powder in the tumbler
- Boil them to see if the corn cob media turns to sludge that can be easily removed
- Use a torch to burn the media (my son's idea)

Just wondering if anyone has some clever method for getting these cleaned out.

Thanks,

Rich
 
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Yup! Been there. Unfortunately I have no easy solution, it's just work to clear that stuff out. Lesson -- don't try to save money and buy the coarse Walmart media for small volume cases -- buy the fine stuff made for reloading work.
 

EddieCoyle

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I thought Lizard litter was walnut shells.

Get as much as you can out, then use a universal decapping die to poke the media out of the flash holes. If you're loading on a progressive, put it in station 1 in place of the sizing die.

If you're loading on a single stage, you've just added another step.

I'd recommend against baking the brass.
 
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Baking it won't help...that stuff is bone dry already. Making it wet will make a mess that I seriously think you'll regret.

You're probably going to be stuck doing them one by one. If you can get the media out of the primer pocket, you may be able to use an air gun to try to blow out the case, but you'll probably be doing a lot of shaking either way.
 

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I don't see how that could happen with DRY media - and I use the Lizard Litter from PetSmart. Sure you didn't throw in some Brasso or other magic elixir?

I had a 1 gallon pail filled to overflowing w/.223 brass, ALL tumbled in Lizard Litter - NO problems - it ALL pours out when I rough-sift with a wire strainer, followed by dumping the strainer into the sorting trays.

I throw the cases in straight from the range; primer holes don't get clogged when the primers are still in place. Depriming knocks out the odd particle that gets stuck in the flash hole.

You were doing something incorrect somewhere in the tumbling process. I'll bet the media was damp and clumped.
 

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Leave the primers in till after tumbling next time.

I throw the cases in straight from the range; primer holes don't get clogged when the primers are still in place. Depriming knocks out the odd particle that gets stuck in the flash hole.
He was tumbling the lube off after resizing. The primers are gone at that point.
 
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1) You put the walnut shells in the tumbler
2) You add a CAPful of Nufinish
3) You add a CAPful of mineral spirits
4) Vibrate without any brass for 20 minutes, to distribute the polish and the mineral spirits
5) Add the brass, and tumble.
6) Remove shiny polished brass with no residue stuck inside

If you add it all at once, the polish gets stuck inside. It's almost impossible to get out. Better off tossing that brass. Sorry to be the bearer of the bad news.

You might try boiling the hell out of it, just plain water, then blast each one with sink sprayer. Then compressed air.

Follow my recipe above, and you should be all set. If you add too much polish or mineral spirits, you will make gunky stiff and it will get stuck.

Oh, and when I run 5.56, I leave the lube on until the very end, and then wipe with a clean cotton towel. Or, you can risk life and limb, and do it the EC way (toss the loaded ammo in the tumbler. )
I would never run brass in the tumbler with no primers in place.
 
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richc

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Hey Duke,

FYI I had tumbled the media with Nufinish and mineral spirits for 30-45 minutes before adding the brass. I believe the problem is the size of the media.

I have tumbled brass before with the primer pocket empty. I was using Lyman media. It worked beautifully. There were a few primer pockets and flash holes with media stuck, but I used the suggested technique of putting a Lee decapping only die in position one of the Dillon 550B and it pushes out anything stuck in the way.

Live and learn. I'm going to experiment a bit to see if I can come up with something clever or creative to get the media out of the cases. I was discussing the problem with a guy at work and he suggested using a dremel tool with a very thin wire brush attachment to grind up the media inside the cases. I may try boiling too.

I'll let y'all know how I make out.

Thanks,

Rich


1) You put the walnut shells in the tumbler
2) You add a CAPful of Nufinish
3) You add a CAPful of mineral spirits
4) Vibrate without any brass for 20 minutes, to distribute the polish and the mineral spirits
5) Add the brass, and tumble.
6) Remove shiny polished brass with no residue stuck inside

If you add it all at once, the polish gets stuck inside. It's almost impossible to get out. Better off tossing that brass. Sorry to be the bearer of the bad news.

You might try boiling the hell out of it, just plain water, then blast each one with sink sprayer. Then compressed air.

Follow my recipe above, and you should be all set. If you add too much polish or mineral spirits, you will make gunky stiff and it will get stuck.

Oh, and when I run 5.56, I leave the lube on until the very end, and then wipe with a clean cotton towel. Or, you can risk life and limb, and do it the EC way (toss the loaded ammo in the tumbler. )
I would never run brass in the tumbler with no primers in place.
 
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SWITCH over to crushed walnut shells for tumbling. Get it as Lizard bedding at the pet store. Much much much much cheaper than the Lymans crap. Make sure its crushed walnut shells, and you won't have this problem... Presuming that you leave the primers in place, polish first, then resize/deprime.

Oh, and the walnut shells are not for those with a nut allergy.
 

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He was tumbling the lube off after resizing. The primers are gone at that point.

STILL should not be a problem with DRY media.

I tumble the lube off AFTER loading because I use a progressive press. The sizer/deprimer makes SURE the flash hole is clear and the case is held straight while priming.
 
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If you end up doing this one at a time, you probably can pick up a brush meant for the slides/valves/mouthpiece/other bits of musical instruments. Sorta like a little bottle brush. Some music stores have little bins of "seconds" that they let go for cheap.
 

richc

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OK... here's the media... after digging the stuff out of a few cases by hand I am convinced the media is too large:

downsized_0121001844.jpg
 

richc

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I tried boiling a handfull of this stuff to see if it would soften. Nope... even after ten minutes in a rolling boil it was like a rock... DOH!
 

richc

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OK... some level of success. I put about 40 cases in the Dillon vibratory tumbler without any media and let it run for about an hour.. First thing I noticed was the amount of media and dust in the bowl. A LOT of the media had come out. As I picked through the cases some were completely empty and some still had media in them. Of those with media I was able to shake the case and a couple times and get the rest out. About 1/4 of them were still filled with some media, and the rest were good to go. I've filled it up again and will let'er rip for a while.

I'm still not sure what is happening. Maybe all that shaking and moving is just dislodging the media. But with all the dust I'm also wondering if the media is being ground down a bit, creating the dust, and then making it easier to shake out of the case.

One thing I found was that if I put too many cases in there they tend to stand up straight and the media packs to the bottom of the case. So I'm thinking this is a job that will take some time. But the good news is I should be able to rejuvenate the brass without a lot of painstaking work.

Thanks everybody.

Rich
 

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Just for the record Rich, just because it says that it's corncob doesn't make it good media. Grit size is one thing (as you're finding out) and hardness is the other. I think that's why you're seeing the stuff break down into dust in the tumbler.

The stuff made specifically as a blasting/tumbling media is made from only the woody part of the ground cob. It's very hard (4.5 on the Mohs' scale), has a consistent grit size, and is darker than the stuff you have.

I use some stuff called "Grit-o' Cobs" in the coarse (1014) size. Here's some info from the manufacturer:

How Grit-o'cobs are Processed
Grit-o'cobs are the result of sophisticated corncob separation and manufacturing processes using The Andersons' uniquely designed machinery in a patented process. The corncob is separated into three components: pith, chaff and woody ring. Only the very tough woody ring, which has a Mohs hardness of 4.5, is used for Grit-o'cobs. This woody ring fraction is dried, ground, air-cleaned, then graded over screens of various mesh sizes which results in a wide variety of finished grades.

I get it from an outfit in Lowell called Beede & Sons. It's only about $1/pound and there's no dust when you use it. The 1014 grit size is large enough to still get caught in the flash hole, so I think I'm going to try the next finer size when I buy my next bag.

What you bought from Walmart is crap intended for hamsters. Remember, just because some guy online said it was good, doesn't mean it is.

ETA: Now that I think about it, I bet the stuff you bought was made from what was left over after they made the Grit-o' Cobs. Wouldn't you want to get the hard stuff out before you used it for pet bedding?
 
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Scrivener

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Sounds as if the only use for the OP's media is cleaning the lube off.

I'll stick with my crushed walnut lizard litter.

DRY.
 
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Sounds as if the only use for the OP's media is cleaning the lube off.

I'll stick with my crushed walnut lizard litter.

DRY.

That's why I love Hornady One Shot. I tumble 'em from the range, then spray a batch, de-cap and re-size, then into a bin. Then they get a quick wipe with a shop rag while the case is still on the trimmer chuck. Some people hate One Shot, I love the stuff.
 

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Sounds as if the only use for the OP's media is cleaning the lube off.

I'll stick with my crushed walnut lizard litter.

DRY.

Actually I use the media for both the original cleaning, before brass prep, and for getting the lube off after brass prep.

Scriv, do you use the walnut for both? Or should I be using different media in these steps?

Thanks,

Rich
 

richc

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Jim,

Thanks... looking at the mess I created it makes perfect sense... now. Kinda like that advice you get as a kid... don't stick your tongue on a frozen pipe and don't eat the yellow snow. Somebody had to learn that lesson the hard way, and then some do it anyway...

Live and learn. I must say, however, that I have some really shiny brass right now!

Best,

Rich


Just for the record Rich, just because it says that it's corncob doesn't make it good media. Grit size is one thing (as you're finding out) and hardness is the other. I think that's why you're seeing the stuff break down into dust in the tumbler.

The stuff made specifically as a blasting/tumbling media is made from only the woody part of the ground cob. It's very hard (4.5 on the Mohs' scale), has a consistent grit size, and is darker than the stuff you have.

I use some stuff called "Grit-o' Cobs" in the coarse (1014) size. Here's some info from the manufacturer:



I get it from an outfit in Lowell called Beede & Sons. It's only about $1/pound and there's no dust when you use it. The 1014 grit size is large enough to still get caught in the flash hole, so I think I'm going to try the next finer size when I buy my next bag.

What you bought from Walmart is crap intended for hamsters. Remember, just because some guy online said it was good, doesn't mean it is.

ETA: Now that I think about it, I bet the stuff you bought was made from what was left over after they made the Grit-o' Cobs. Wouldn't you want to get the hard stuff out before you used it for pet bedding?
 
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I have a bag of this stuff from Grainger.. $25 for 40 pounds! Works great on pistol cases, I haven't tried it on 223 yet.

Thanks for the alternate link, with free shipping, that's a deal $20 for 40 pounds!

If anyone wants to try some of this and are in my area, let me know (RichC, let me know if you want to try a batch of it), It will take me a while to go through the 40 pound bag I have.
 
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richc

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I have a bag of this stuff from Grainger.. $25 for 40 pounds! Works great on pistol cases, I haven't tried it on 223 yet.

Thanks for the alternate link, with free shipping, that's a deal $20 for 40 pounds!

If anyone wants to try some of this and are in my area, let me know (RichC, let me know if you want to try a batch of it), It will take me a while to go through the 40 pound bag I have.

Thanks for the suggestion and offer. I found a store near work that has it in stock. I'm picking up a 40 pound bag after lunch.

:)

RichC
 
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