Disgusting. That’s the word I use to describe my crusty jar of mineral spirits that I use to clean dies. It’s a mess to use, and when I blow dry the dies there’s a fine mist of mineral spirits that you can smell in the shop air. You may know the feeling: the excitement of unboxing dies, and the realization that you’ll need to spend 15-20 minutes cleaning them until they are “de-gunked” of the factory oil and ready to use in your press. I’ll admit, I’ve used dies without cleaning them, and while it may not cause many problems, at minimum they can coat your fingers with oil each time you touch them. It’s not satisfying to use dies that have gummed up factory oil on them: I don’t even like the look of oiled-up dies on my presses. For me, it’s time to turn the page- I’m hoping I’ve found a better way to keep my dies clean. We’ll see!
After getting a new RCBS ultrasonic cleaner, I thought I should give that a try instead of my old crusty jar. RCBS has both “Weapons Cleaning Solution” (intended for guns and gun parts) and “Case Cleaning Solution” (intended for brass). Since reloading dies are pretty much like gun parts, I thought I would give the Weapons Cleaning Solution a try. The RCBS Weapons Cleaning Solution comes in a 32 fluid oz. container that has a handy built-in measuring/dispensing chamber. The instructions state that you should use a minimum of 40 parts water to 1 part cleaning solution, up to a maximum of 14 parts water to 1 part cleaning solution. I chose a middle value of 30 parts water to 1 part solution when I mixed the batch used for this article and video.
Here’s the video, which shows the setup, cleaning cycle, and drying procedure that I used to clean some brand new RCBS 45 ACP dies:
Here’s how the parts came out of the cleaner (after some drying time):
After the parts were completely dry, they felt clean, and according to RCBS they now have a protective film of corrosion protection. Thankfully, this film of protection is not something that’s apparent when you handle the parts. That would defeat the purpose of cleaning new dies wouldn’t it?
I think I’ll go and clean my first batch of brass with this Ultrasonic Cleaner!
Talk to you all soon,