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...anyone else use or try it? I've got a small half-gallon one I've had for about three years or so and I love it. Works fantastic on items that are otherwise very difficult to clean thoroughly.

If you have one, I'm curious as to what cleaning solution you use in it. I'm trying Kafko Oil Eater at about a 1:25 dilution for my brass to see how it works. Nothing ammoniated in it as far as my nose and the MSDS can tell...

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I have a Crest 175HT which is a mechanical-timer version but it is heated and industrial strength. It was the smallest one of that brand they made and I think it still is. I worked a lot of overtime in 2006 so I decided to buy one just for kicks; it was a great purchase IMO.

I now wish I had a much larger cleaner.

I've heard of folks using them for guns as well and it is probably an excellent application for ultrasonic cleaning. The only drawback is making sure the gun is lubed immediately after tanking it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I reckon it is time for an update on my usage of Kafko Oil Eater in my ultrasonic cleaner for cleaning my brass.

I loaded about 60-75 cases at a time in the little half-gallon wonder's wire basket and ran them for about 25 minutes with a 3:64 solution at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The degree of cleaning- though not perfect- was very good indeed in my opinion. The cases were not glittery by any means but they were clean, especially on the outside. My first couple of batches were ran with spent primers in and the cleaning was not as good as when I decapped them first using my just-obtained Lee Universal Decapping Die. Decapping first made a notable difference, and the primer pockets got cleaned as well of course. I cleaned about 300-350 cases before the solution was excessively dirty.

In sum, I am quite satisfied with the Kafko Oil Eater and its performance in this application. Costco used to sell gallons of it at about $9 a pop so it is economical (I bought a five-gallon pail a couple of years ago at the Costco Business Center for about $37.99 or so- I should be set for a while). As I mentioned earlier, it appears to be non-ammoniated which is a plus for this application; the MSDS says the two main goodies are sodium metasilicate and 2-butoxyethanol, aka butyl cellosolve and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.

Now to find an economical way to quickly dry the little buggers...

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Crash, that seems a lot of trouble to clean brass, compared to plain old tumbling with media?

Have you tried setting that "excessively dirty" fluid aside for a couple weeks to see what it looks like after all the solids settle out? I'm betting it'd just have a stain and still be perfectly useable.

Far as use on guns, I'll bet it'd be the cats arse for carbon rings on revolver cylinders.

Bob

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It may be a bit more complex than tumbling but the insides of the cases and the primer pockets get cleaned in addition to the outside. Besides, the ultrasonic cleaner was something I had in stock. I've spent well over a grand on this new, extremely habit-forming hobby so far and a tumbler for me- at least for now- is something I can live without.

As for allowing the solids in the solution to settle out, it may help but I believe that having too much gunk on the bottom of the cleaner would reduce its efficiency as it would tend to absorb the output from the transducer(s). Since mine does not have a drain spout (too small capacity to warrant one), keeping the solution just ain't worth it IMO; the cost of the Kafko Oil Eater is minimal to me.

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  • 1 year later...

I think I'll provide an update to this even though it's been over a year now-

I have in fact changed the solution I use. I found that Maintex Neutral Floor Cleaner (sold at Costco Business Centers) mixed about 1:32 with water and two teaspoons of citric acid per gallon, ran at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-14 minutes, performs considerably better. Adding the citric acid makes a ***huge*** difference not only in the speed of cleaning but it will also "passivate" the brass, helping it resist oxidation.

Someday I ought to post "before" and "after" photos of the casings...

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Crash,

I'd love to see pictures of before and after. I've always felt that tumblers don't do a great job of cleaning oily residue from inside brass. I once had very uneven ignition of powder in my 45 loads. When I called Hodgdon and inquired how this could be, the first thing they asked me is how many times I use the tumbling media before throwing it out. I was using it for about 10 batches of brass, then it would darken and I would throw it out. He said that my media was leaving oily residue in the brass because I was keeping it too long. I started using the media one time and the inconsistent ignition went away immediately.

Your cleaning method is really intriguing because it almost completely removes any oily residue. I'll bet you get very consistent loads?

Wayne

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I want one, but they just cost so much. I was at a Harbor Freight store recently (getting an $89 generator, which ought to be good for running one electric toothbrush) and they had a couple of ultrasonic cleaners for stupid cheap- like $50 or less. I didn't know what the solution cost, and was afraid of buying something that needed an equal amount spent on solution, which would make it not nearly as cheap.

Still, if the biggest one had been just a little bigger, I might have jumped on it.

If nothing else, it might be OK to see if it was something one would use much and know if they would want to invest in a decent one.

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Hornady and Graf's both market/sell Ultrasonic cleaners that are identical to Harbor Freight's silver $59 unit. The only difference is theirs costs $40 more.

I have one and it seems to work good. For me it has more utility than a tumbler because I can clean other parts in it. For instance I had some gummed up 10/22 magazines that I tossed in with dish detergent. After 16 minutes they were spotless.

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I purchased a convection oven for drying the brass; I run them at 225-250 F for about 20 minutes and afterwards put them on my purpose-built screens- it seems to do the trick.

If I remember to do so I'll take some before/after photos of my .357 Magnum cases with 2400 shot out of them and post 'em... I need to find the SD card for my camera!

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  • 10 months later...

I finally got around to taking some photos. Here are some .40 S&W and .357 Magnum cases, before:

And after:

I used two ounces of neutral floor cleaner and one rounded teaspoon of citric acid, to about a half-gallon of water. Ran them for ten minutes at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with a single hand-stirring of the cases about halfway with the basket out of solution. I am pretty sure that any casing discoloration was due to my earlier, version 1.0 cleaning solution, though there is a very slight possibility that 120 F is excessively warm.

They really do get clean using this method. The citric acid is most important.

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  • 2 months later...

Indeed, it seems to be VERY effective at residue removal. I honestly don't know how the less-expensive ultrasonic cleaners would do, but from what I've read they appear to work fairly well too.

It is probably quite a bit more labor-intensive than vibratory-tumbler cleaning but I really like it because I don't have to worry about stuck media in the primer holes and they get *clean*.

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Crash,

I'd love to see pictures of before and after. I've always felt that tumblers don't do a great job of cleaning oily residue from inside brass. I once had very uneven ignition of powder in my 45 loads. When I called Hodgdon and inquired how this could be, the first thing they asked me is how many times I use the tumbling media before throwing it out. I was using it for about 10 batches of brass, then it would darken and I would throw it out. He said that my media was leaving oily residue in the brass because I was keeping it too long. I started using the media one time and the inconsistent ignition went away immediately.

Your cleaning method is really intriguing because it almost completely removes any oily residue. I'll bet you get very consistent loads?

Wayne

Wayne do the dryer sheet thing. I rip one used sheet into 3-4 pieces and have the same walnut media for YEARS! (The media has seen tens of thousands of rounds...)

My process is take the range brass into the walnut media for 2-3 hours. Then into another tumbler with Corn Cob (and a little polish every 4-5 batches) for 2-3 hours and its very clean.

Here is a few .40 S&W that I did just that. Just got done reloading about 500 rounds today.

Take care, Bill

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  • 4 months later...

I reckon I should summarize what I've discovered in the past couple of years with respect to ultrasonic cleaning solutions-

* Version 1.0: Kafko Oil Eater- not good, found there must be some chemical (probably an amine) that attacks the brass. It doesn't readily show itself, either. Avoid.

* Version 2.0: Maintex Neutral Floor Cleaner with citric acid added- it does work satisfactorily, no attacking of brass observed in over one year of use.

* Version 3.0 (beta): two teaspoons of polyoxyethylene nonylphenol, a.k.a. Tergitol NP-9, with four heaping teaspoons of citric acid per gallon- I'm still testing this, but it appears to work even faster and better than v2.0. This one really works well; we'll see how the brass holds up. Since there are no amino compunds to de-zincify the brass, it should be good to go.

The NP-9 is available at chemical supply houses that specialize in detergent compounds; I got mine at The Chemistry Store for what it's worth.

Just thought I'd share.

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