Making It Shiny On A Budget

If I was to load brass it had to be cleaned. I was looking at wet tumblers and dry vibratory polishers. To my mind the dry vibratory polishers looked a lot like a Bundt cake pan, those are inexpensive enough. So my wife was the recipient of a new Bundt pan and I spirited away the old one.

I’ve been in the auto repair business for a number of years. We are either running as hard as we can go, or sitting around with time on our hands; the highest highs and lowest lows. I work at an independent Acura/Honda shop that has been in business since 1978, so a lot of old stuff piles up, because you never know when you’ll need something obscure.

So on one of those dreadful slow days I started rutting around in the trailer full of treasures out back. I came across a radiator fan motor from a 1979 Accord that worked and a stack of plastic buckets that had once contained pizza toppings that one of our customers felt like we needed a supply of.

A trip to the Lowes for a few pieces of metal, nuts and bolts, a couple of used Honda Odyssey brake shoe return springs, 12 volts from a computer power supply and the homemade polisher proof of concept was born. The power supply was soon mounted into one of the buckets, a mechanical timer added and the Bundt pan mounted to the top. Materials purchased: around $20

Making It Shiny On A Budget 1
Proof of concept mock up.

It worked surprisingly well, but a few months later Christmas came around and I received a Frankford Arsenal polisher and media separator. The media separator makes brass recovery simple and mess free; after sifting media through a colander, it’s worth the price of admission.

Typically I would do the rough cleaning of range pickups before depriming and sizing in the Franken Polisher with Lyman TuffNut. It seems better for removing heavy range dirt, but clogs primer pockets if used after depriming. I would later fine polish with treated corn cob in the Frankford Arsenal. Below is a short demonstration of the two polishers. The homemade polisher actually moves the media much quicker than the Frankford Arsenal unit.

I continued using both polishers for several months until I gave the Franken Polisher to a coworker that is using it for polishing small parts for an auto restoration project.

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That treated walnut works great but if you don’t want to deal with the red dust on your brass, use 3 parts corn cob to 1 part treated walnut, or even half and half, and put a used dryer sheet in with each batch.
No dust, shiny brass.


Very ingenious!


That’s so cool, man. I think I would’ve kept the one that worked the best, but you just can’t give away your Wife’s Christmas present.