The creation of the cartridge for firearms was the end result of hundreds of years of experimentation and practical development in delivering the explosive gas charge to force the bullet out from the barrel. The case, also known as the brass, holds the powder inside it, and when the case primer is ignited by striking it with the hammer the powder ignites and sends the bullet rapidly away. The case either automatically falls to the ground or it falls to the ground when the shooter ratchets the pump or slide to reload the chamber. Those spent cases are worth something.
Shooters often collect their spent cases after a round of practice. Because of the gunpowder residue that gets on a case as a bullet is fired, a case must be cleaned before reusing. The easiest way to do this is to tumble the cases for 30 to 90 minutes in a container filled with cleaning agents such as small pieces of walnut shells. The walnut shells scratch off the residue without harming the harder brass, so the cases can be reused many times.
Commercial tumblers are available on the consumer market, but many gun enthusiasts and reloaders have a do-it-yourself spirit. They find a way to make case tumblers from any number of discarded contraptions and are happy to share their ideas with fellow gun owners. Plans for tumblers, along with step by step diagrams are passed around at the range, at gun shows and on the Internet. Most are within the capability of the average homeowner.
At its most basic, a case tumbler needs a can to hold the cases and cleaner, and a way to make it rotate. Plastic buckets and old coffee cans are suitable for becoming case tumbler tubs. A salvaged motor from a printer, a turntable, a paint can mixer or anything else at turns will serve as tumbler driver. Used roller-skate wheels have even been put into service for tumblers.
Your Clothes Dryer
A simple tumbler would be your clothes dryer. Put your cases and walnut shells in a 1-gallon plastic container with a snug lid and wrap it in bath towels, securing the towels with a cord. Place enough bath towels into the clothes dryer to fill it at least 1/2 full, along with the container. Turn the dryer on a timed dry as long as it will go. There's no need to use heat unless the towels are wet. When the dryer stops, open the container and check the cleanliness of the cases. If necessary, tumble them some more until they are completely clean.
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