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Vintage ammo cleaning
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December 6, 2022 - 6:05 am
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Can anyone advise on what they do to clean up or make vintage cartridges more presentable? In particular the rim and primer face area. 
Thanks

 RickC 

   

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December 6, 2022 - 2:51 pm
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Rick,  I have been told by the serious ammo collectors to not clean ammo.  Basically the same idea as “cleaning” our rifles.  Fast way to damage value.  Now–like everything, I assume there are exceptions.  Spots of corrosion are bound to have long term damaging effects, and I should think they ought to be at least wiped carefully with a rag.  But the pros say don’t buy those!  Spotty corrosion is a price reducer for sure.  My take, and hope others weigh in.  Tim

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December 6, 2022 - 3:19 pm
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tim tomlinson said
Rick,  I have been told by the serious ammo collectors to not clean ammo.  Basically the same idea as “cleaning” our rifles.  Fast way to damage value.  Now–like everything, I assume there are exceptions.  Spots of corrosion are bound to have long term damaging effects, and I should think they ought to be at least wiped carefully with a rag.  But the pros say don’t buy those!  Spotty corrosion is a price reducer for sure.  My take, and hope others weigh in.  Tim

  

Always appreciate your replies Tim and respect your opinion. Some of the cartridges I’m looking to clean up are not collector grade but pre-1930 and I have some nice boxes I would like to place these in. The box condition, and the cartridge condition would not match and value is not a concern, only for display.

I only purchased the more expensive stuff from Ray at RTG in the past, but sold all my ammo a while back. One of the methods mentioned online was a cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt, soaking it for five minutes and then using extra fine steel wool to clean off the residue before a rinse and wipe. Just wondered what some of the members here might suggest. 

 RickC 

   

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December 6, 2022 - 3:31 pm
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I would never soak a cartridge in anything. Its bound to get inside and then cause a bigger issue down the road. If you don’t care about its value but only looks then wiping with something until you get the look you want.

Bob

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December 6, 2022 - 3:41 pm
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1873man said
I would never soak a cartridge in anything. Its bound to get inside and then cause a bigger issue down the road. If you don’t care about its value but only looks then wiping with something until you get the look you want.

Bob

  

I was thinking the same thing Bob. I’ve tried regular cleaners and steel wool but it looks like brass polish and elbow grease is in order. 

 RickC 

   

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December 6, 2022 - 4:34 pm
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Why not put them is a vibratory cleaner filled with a mild cleaning media?  With ground walnut hulls, etc, these things take a LONG time to work (24 hrs), so there no risk of overdoing it–you can stop the action with whatever degree of cleaning you want.

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December 6, 2022 - 5:17 pm
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clarence said
Why not put them is a vibratory cleaner filled with a mild cleaning media?  With ground walnut hulls, etc, these things take a LONG time to work (24 hrs), so there no risk of overdoing it–you can stop the action with whatever degree of cleaning you want.

  

? My home laboratory has been quarantine until upgrades can be completed. 

 RickC 

   

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December 6, 2022 - 5:32 pm
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I’ve carefully used a soft cloth buffing wheel on a bench grinder to remove corrosion on old ammo.  Just gently buff them dry with no rubbing compound, etc.  It removes any loose corrosion, but retains the patina.  I would never use steel wool unless it is on modern non-collectable shooter ammo.

Don

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December 6, 2022 - 6:02 pm
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Of course steel wool will sure make them shiny  Wink

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December 7, 2022 - 6:21 pm
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I would just rub them with a cloth that might have some oil on it. 

Cleaned brass can be aged back if you handle it with oily hands and then let it sit for months.

I have never cleaned loaded cartridges by any mechanical means???

 

My vibratory cleaner with walnut shells and some polish is running as we speak.  I’ve never had to run it for more than a few hours to clean the most crusty brass I’ve ever cleaned.  If you go this route watch it periodically not to over polish it.

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December 7, 2022 - 6:42 pm
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Thanks for the all responses. I’ll think I’ll start at the least abrasive method and work my way up. I guess that was my concern where these are loaded cartridges and wondered what others who have tried to clean them did. 

 RickC 

   

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December 8, 2022 - 2:52 am
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RickC said
Thanks for the all responses. I’ll think I’ll start at the least abrasive method and work my way up. I guess that was my concern where these are loaded cartridges and wondered what others who have tried to clean them did. 

  

Don’t make it too pretty! Some moron like me will want to shoot it. 

 

Mike

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