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Thread: which tumbler to get

  1. #1
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    which tumbler to get

    I dont want to spend a whole lot but im looking for something decent any advice would be great thanks

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    Administrator DukeInFlorida's Avatar
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    Here's my two cents worth..............

    I have been tumbling brass for decades. Hundreds of thousands of pieces, in calibers from 22 LR to 45-70 (and everything in between).
    What wears out on a tumbler is the bearings that the motor rotates on. A tumbler is especially tough on the bearings because the way the tumbler works is to put an eccentric or off balance weight on the motor spindle, and that causes the vibration, and also the excessive wear on the bearings.

    The CHEAP tumblers all use bronze bushings for the motor bearings. Those would last fine for a normal motor. But bronze bushings get worn into an egg shape because of the out of balance condition required for the tumbler to work. When the egg shape gets bad enough, the rotor ends up touching the outer commutator of the motor, and the motor stops spinning. It sits there and hums.

    The ONLY tumblers that I have bought that have real roller bearings or ball bearings are the Dillon tumblers. I used to go through a cheap tumbler every 2 years (again, LOTS of use!). Since I went over to Dillon, I have not ever needed to replace a tumbler.

    Their CV750 model will suit most needs. However, if you process HUGE quantities of brass like I do, their larger CV2001 handles the job better. I have both models in my inventory, and there are days when I have BOTH of them loaded and running at the same time. The CV2001 is under $200, which may sound like a lot. Until you start adding up how many of the cheap $50 ones you will burn out. And, there are no motor replacements for the $50 ones (been there, and have the XXL T shirt!)

    BTW, the proper loading of the tumbler is as follows:

    1) Add a few capfuls of mineral spirits and a capful of NuFinish car polish to your media with NO brass yet added. Turn the machine on, and allow the media to tumble and absorb the liquids. Takes about 1/2 hour.
    2) Dump the media out into a bucket.
    3) Add brass to the point where the tumbler bowl is 1/2 full. Any more than that will overload the motor, and any less will cause the tumbler to work at less than efficiency.
    4) Put the media back in, on top of the brass. Remember that the brass is empty, and will absorb all of the media. It's hard to get the same amount of brass in the bowl if the media is already in there.
    5) Let the tumbler run about 2 hours, and it should polish the brass to a bright jewelry lustre. It's the weight of the brass, pressing the media against the brass. It's not just the weight of the media that does the polishing. Most people UNDER load the tumbler with brass, and are disappointed with the results. It takes 8-10 hours to get about the same results if you under load the bowl.

    The motors are rated for the bowl being 1/2 full of brass.
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    Thanks duke that was very informative. Looks like ill see what y birthday shapes out for me as far as cash wise then ill be getting the 750. As i wont be tumbling all that much tops of 1000 pc per month.

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    Another sub question to this would be corncob/walnut or spend the money on stainless?? Thanks.

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    the Thumbler is made as good and don't have DILLON on the tag that adds another $100 . Anything that has DILLON is like HARLEY you going to get s-------d You can find them at their web or check the feebay the model 16 is a very good one and you cant hear it run.

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    If I were buying today, I would also choose a Thumler's Ultra Vibe. DukeInMain is spot on regards the durability of a ball bearing motor and that is what Thumler's uses.

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    Administrator DukeInFlorida's Avatar
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    I have been tumbling for decades, and have found that the crushed walnut shells works faster than the corn cob media.

    I also have a SS pin tumbler, but the issue (from my perspective) with SS Pin tumbling is:

    1) There's a limit to how much brass you can process at one time.
    2) You have to deal with recovering the pins. A pin stuck in the flash hole at the time of full length sizing will mess up your sizing die decapping pin. If you don't recover all of the pins, you eventually have to order another bag of the pins. Expensive.
    3) They do a great job, but rinsing, etc, requires some room, and is messy, etc.

    So, I save the SS Pin method for cleaning the 22 LR brass that I swage. When my .308 swage dies come in, I will use the SS Pin method for cleaning the 5.7X28 FN brass after annealing.

    I also use the SS Pin method occasionally for special lots of reloads (if I am going to give a friend a few reloads, and I want them to be really impressed with the look of the brass).

    Otherwise, I use the walnut shell media, with the mineral spirits and NuFinish car polish, for 99% of what I polish.
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    What wears out on a tumbler is the bearings that the motor rotates on. A tumbler is especially tough on the bearings because the way the tumbler works is to put an eccentric or off balance weight on the motor spindle, and that causes the vibration, and also the excessive wear on the bearings.

    The CHEAP tumblers all use bronze bushings for the motor bearings. Those would last fine for a normal motor. But bronze bushings get worn into an egg shape because of the out of balance condition required for the tumbler to work. When the egg shape gets bad enough, the rotor ends up touching the outer commutator of the motor, and the motor stops spinning. It sits there and hums.


    I agree with what D-I-M described. I purchased a vib tumbler as a starting point in my reloading process with brass cases. It is a Frankfort model and like what Duke was stating the bearing do wear out. This unit does have roller bearing not bushings. When the unit starts to make excess noise I take out the motor and replace the bearing for another 6 months or run time. The bearing required for this unit are the standard skate board/roller skate type. Six bucks and you can buy 20 replacement bearings. Just a thought to get more out of the value of the cheaper vib units.

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    I have a Thumler I bought in 1980, second hand, from a rock polisher that was going out of business. I don't use it as much as some folks, but do probably 500 pistol cases a month as well as Moly coating cast bullets in it. I can't say a bad thing about it, and it still has the bearings it had when I purchased.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbin86 View Post
    Another sub question to this would be corncob/walnut or spend the money on stainless?? Thanks.
    Normal tumblers won't do steel because of their weight. You would need like a rotary tumbler.(Like a Thumlers) Some people like walnut, I like corncob. Walnut will clean them faster, but corncob puts a better shine on the brass.

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    Here is some brass done using stainless steel in a wet rotary tumbler, then final polished in corncob and a 50/50 mix of Flitz media restorer and NuFinish car wax. Notice the pristine primer pockets. The inside of the cases are just as mirror finished. OK, maybe I'm a LITTLE bit obsessive about how shiny I want my brass.........

    270brass_zps25bd712e.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by gandog56 View Post
    Here is some brass done using stainless steel in a wet rotary tumbler, then final polished in corncob and a 50/50 mix of Flitz media restorer and NuFinish car wax. Notice the pristine primer pockets. The inside of the cases are just as mirror finished. OK, maybe I'm a LITTLE bit obsessive about how shiny I want my brass.........

    270brass_zps25bd712e.jpg
    Mine looks the same way. It's a matter of pride.
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    I use a Lyman tumbler that I got back in the mid 80's. It still works for me but I don't tumble daily.

    I guess important factors are budget size and the amount of use.

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    The results from a rotary tumbler are superior to a vibratory tumbler. Rotary tumblers are more expensive than vibratory tumblers. The results from either one will vary depending on the media used. Stainless media can be used in a rotary tumbler and gives outstanding results according to those that use it, I do not. I use corn cob in my rotary tumbler. Rotary tumblers are very quiet, not so for vibratory tumblers. Your decision of course, I can only recommend a rotary. Keep an eye on your local adds lapidary equipment, you may find a good rotary for a good price.

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    You didn't say what cartridges you plan to clean, or what kind of volume & how often. I'm loading on a self imposed shoestring, but only 9 mm, 45 & .30 carbine. Bought a Harbor Freight dual drum tumbler and 2 1/2 lbs SS pins for around $83.00 total. I can process about 300 - 9 mm, 200 45's or like amount of .30 in a couple hours. Don't know how it would work for rifle brass, but for what I'm doing it works well.

  16. #16
    Administrator DukeInFlorida's Avatar
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    SS pin tumbling works great on rifle brass.
    Tips:
    1) Remove primers for a more thorough cleaning job.
    2) I have modified my system for pin tumbling to now include a drying step.
    3) I use a cheap Harbor Freight food dehydrator, and dry the brass completely dry in under an hour. Brass comes out of the dehydrator too hot to handle. REALLY bone dry!
    4) The brass is spotless, but susceptible to oxidation.
    5) I then tumble in NuFinish car polish fopr 1/2 hour to coat the brass with the polymer finish. Stays bright and shiny for months, even in the humid Florida air.
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    Know anyone who's got a cement mixer? A friend used to tumble 5000 rds of .45 acp at a time for me, using Jeweler's rouge and chopped up corncobs. He'd let it run all night and they'd look shiny-new.

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    which tumbler to get

    Hi guys.

    We need to get the Mrs a new car and shes decided she wants a 1 series.

    She doesnt care about spec / engine etc as long as it is either white, black or grey and I dont really care I just want something as cheap as possible.

    At the moment Im looking at the 118ds but the other option is a 116i.

    I want to spend as little as possible to get the best car and it needs to be fairly cheap to insure because she has 9 points so a 135i is out Im afraid

    I will have to drive it occasionally which is why Im keener to go for a 118d.

    My issue with going for the derv is that she will be using it for mainly small journeys and I know they dont like doing small mileage. It will probably get used on a long run once in a while though and I wont mind taking it out for a thrashing every now and then.

    I dont know a great deal about them but havent heard good things about either engine and have tried to get her in something else I offered to give her the touring but she didnt want it so I think were stuck with a 1 series of some description.

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