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Old May 7, 2013, 01:46 PM   #1
kmherring911
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Tumbler info??

I have just started reloading and I enjoy it! I am still buying stuff here and there and this week it's a tumbler to clean my shells. Any suggests? Any info is good.
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Old May 7, 2013, 02:23 PM   #2
FLChinook
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I paid about twice the amount of a cheaper model to get a Dillon (CV-750). It was circa $160 delivered to my house. All I can say is I like it
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Old May 7, 2013, 02:36 PM   #3
m&p45acp10+1
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Several questions to awnser before any real suggestions can be made.

1. What are you loading for?
2. What kind of quanities will you be cleaning?
3. How dirty of brass will you be cleaning?
4. What kind of budget do you have?
5. How OCD about super shine are you?

Reasons for the questions

#1 If loading just for hand gun a tubler is not needed for shootable ammo. If brass is dirty from a range barrel then washing them with soapy water, and a dash of vinegar will clean them up enough to load with. Shiney does not make it shoot any better. If loading for rifle, you can wash them the same, and most lubes are water based so a wet cloth with soapy water wiped over the case, then rinsed off will remove case lube.

#2 & #3 Large quanities I would advise a vibratory tumbler of at least a 5 pound capacity. They make larger ones, that will do more at a time. They cost more. Depends on what your budget, needs, and wants are. They will do a decent, to good job on dirty brass. Average cleaning time goes from an hour to a day.

#4 Budget is limiting factor for many. Prices go from around $35 to a few hundred dollars. Just becasue it cost more does not mean it is, or will work better, though in the end when it comes to super cheapo you tend to get what you paid for.

#5 Super shine inside, and out will require either a rotary wet tumbler with stainless steel pins, or an ultrasonic unit. Both are going to take time for the brass to dry after.
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:07 PM   #4
kmherring911
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I'm mainly going to use it to clean .223, 45, 9mm, 380, and probably some more rifle shells. It doesn't have to do a super shine job, but just enough to say its clean. I probably will only putting 50 shells in at a time at the least.. Thanks for the info!
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:17 PM   #5
Rifleman1776
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The plain old bowl shaped vibrator tumbler that has been around forever and sold under several brands. Mine is a Lyman. They are simple, do the job and reliable.
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:46 PM   #6
kilimanjaro
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Take a look at the Thumbler model B rock tumbler, with stainless steel media. Works well, less dust, and media is forever.
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Old May 8, 2013, 10:29 AM   #7
wncchester
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The first popular tumblers were the viberator types and, on balance, they're still the better choice. Wet processes (Ultrasonics and steel pins) can get cases surgically clean but that only matters if you're going to do surgery with them. Wet case cleaning is slow, labor intensive, messy and then you have to wait for them to dry inside before they can be used; PITA. Steel pins are expensive and require quite costly rotary tumblers too. Few of us bother with wet systems for very long.

No brand of vib tumbler is noticably 'better' than any other. All they are is a plastic bowl/lid/base, a few springs and a motor; they all do the same thing the same way. The weak points in all of 'em are electrical; the motor and its wiring. The motor wiring connections may break due to the vibration but are easily fixed if you can use a soldering iron.

All tumbler makers use small, cheep Chinese motors so how long one lasts is a crap shoot no matter the brand or price; some last a very long time, some don't. Most low cost motor's have small diameter shafts with plan bronze shaft bushings that let the oil dry out and seize the shaft, which then burns the motor windings out. I know Lyman and Berry/Cabelas/Graf use larger diameter motor shafts with ball bearings so get one of those. Lyman's cost a little more but those made by Berry and get sold by Cabelas/Graft are just as good, IMHO. ?

Some people agonize over which media, cob or nut, is 'best'; it hardly matters because both work quite well. What does matter, for convienence, is the grit size. Most commercial reloading suppliers sell what's called 10/20 grit but the bits are so big they get stuck in flash holes. I much prefer 20/40 which is too fine to get stuck and works just as well as the bigger bits. What I love is sold by some larger home builder's supply stores as a "sand" blasting media for cleaning log homes. It's inexpensive by the pound but only comes in about 40# bags - that's been a very long time media supply for me!

Putting metal polish in the media is optional. Glitz was fun for awhile but I grew out of it and much prefer the clean matt surface finish I get without polish. Plain media cleaning leaves my cases looking factory new without the shiney 'plastic' looking finish a polish leaves.

The question of 'lead' in a vib tumbler's dust is unfounded. There is only a tiny amount lead in a tiny primer pellet and virtually all of it get's blown out the barrel. Most of the dust that causes some concerns is from the media itself - and is harmless - and the gray on the media is dried polish which is no more harmful in a tumbler than it is when polishing an auto.

Last edited by wncchester; May 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM.
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Old May 8, 2013, 11:20 AM   #8
dab102999
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You will find as time goes on your amount of caseings will increase. I my self process 200-300 cases at a time. (or more0 And multiple calibers at the same time as long as shells dont get stuck to each other. And then stick them in a container until the day I load them. I have contimplated getting a wet tumbler but all the things I read with the extra involved in it just isn't for me. As far as media I started using kitty litter for a lot cheaper but even regular media isn't that expensive for how long it last. I have a Lyman tumbler (little 600) that has served me well since the 80's..just recently I picked up a much larger used Horandy from a gun show for a real good price. Man that Horandy is quiet. I can litterally have it running next to me while watching t.v. if I want to. That Lyman you are not going to do that with. The only thing I have read bad about any vibrator type tumbler is the cheap chinease ones don't seem to last for a lot of guys..So for the $10-20 more you can get a Frankfort, Lyman, or cabela's type model.

You can't go wrong with a vibrator tumbler. Even with small amounts that you can do without a tumbler (hand wash method above) the fact that you get home from the range, toss the brass in the tumbler, check on it in a few hours...or tomorrow, and the few minutes it takes to sort it and put in in a container is worth it.

Now the reason I say wet tumbling isn't for me is this. Wet tumbling will make that brass look like new. Even in the primer pocket. Which vibrator media tumbling will not do. But to get primer pockets clean primmers have to not be in them. So that means tumbling brass to clean it so I can run thru the deprime station. Then wet tumble, then dry (for more then just a couple of hours). So the amount of extra steps just to get brass that looks a little better is not worth the time involved for me.
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Old May 8, 2013, 08:11 PM   #9
serf 'rett
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Quote:
I probably will only putting 50 shells in at a time at the least
You are dealing with a small quanity of case. I use a small Thumler A-R1 3 pound tumbler with stainless steel pins to clean. I deprime on my shop drill press, using a nail for the primer punch. Quick wash of the really dirty range pick up stuff before I put on the tumbler barrel. Standard barrel loads:

150 pieces of 9mm or
100 peices of 40S&W or
80 pieces of .45ACP

1 hour to clean or 1.5 hours to super clean. I don't understand the oft stated "wet tumbling takes to much time." It takes me less than 5 minutes to dump a tumbler load, rinse, separate the pins from the brass, rack up the brass in plastic trays for air drying and refill the tumbler for the next run.
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Old May 8, 2013, 09:15 PM   #10
Misssissippi Dave
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A rock tumbler and walnut media will work for small amounts of brass. I prefer a vib. type tumbler with corncob (20/40) media. You don't have to put in additives but you can. If you don't think they are clean enough just let it run longer. You don't need to stay there watching it vibrate and can do other things while it cleans. Get a size that suits your needs.

I got a Dillon 750 and like it. Others will work well too, as already mentioned. Just get a size to match the amount you plan to clean at one time. When I got mine I was running it around the clock. I did several batches during the day and evening then a final one to run all night. I wanted to see if it would keep working even if it ran almost non-stop for the entire 3 day weekend. It did fine. Now I don't run it near that much. It helps to have something to sort the brass from the media. There are several ways to do this.
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Old May 10, 2013, 04:56 AM   #11
under_dawg
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I've had 2 vibratory tumblers from Harbor Freight. The first one vibratoried right off the top of my work bench about 2 years after I bought it! I came home from work, and it was on the floor still running on its side!! What a mess! I went back to Harbor Freight and bought a second one and have been using it every since. Probably 3 years or so. I paid aroun $8 and bought the "Free Replacement" warranty, but never had to use it. It taught me a valuable lesson though. Put it on the floor when operating!.. I would recommend sweeping the dirt and dust up for at least a few feet so it doesn't get sucked up in the motor. Mine hase screen mesh on the bottom. Watch the paper and magazines for the 20% off coupon and wait until it goes on sale. I just checked the website on sale for $55.99, with 20% coupon you could get down to $44.80.

I'm not a high volume reloader. I probably use it once or twice a month usually overnight 8-10 hours.
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Old May 10, 2013, 10:16 AM   #12
RC20
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I disagree that you don't need a brass cleaner per minimum use etc.

I always find I need to clean up something and I do like clean brass and you can see any bad shells much better

Regardless if you reload you will reload more and more

I bought a Ultra Vibe 10 after my brother had good reuslt with it (I had an old Lyman that was not doing so good and erratic)

It cost a lot but works fantastic.

Cheap ones get poor results. I have not use for liquid types.
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Old May 11, 2013, 12:39 AM   #13
DennRN
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I have a Thumblers rotary tumbler for 2 reasons:
1.) I do all my reloading indoors in an area that doubles as a living space/workshop. A vibratory tumbler will kick up way too much dust vs. a sealed tumbler cylinder that is sealed water tight.
2.) I can choose whether to dry tumble with corncob or walnut and have the added option of wet tumble with or without stainless media.

Just like reloading presses, cleaning your brass is a matter of personal preference, circumstance, and budget.

Any way you go, I recommend that you stay away from advice to skip brass cleaning altogether, the number one reason to clean it is to protect your reloading dies, second to that is that clean brass is easier to inspect for cracks and signs of impending failure.
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Old May 11, 2013, 07:51 AM   #14
mhp
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I have a midway tumbler and a Hornady tumbler. Both do the job,but the Hornady is SO much quieter. My shop is a 10x12 room and you can run the Hornady without distraction .
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Old May 12, 2013, 10:40 AM   #15
RC20
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While I respect the option chose, I don't like bad info.

The vibration tumblers do not create dust (at least with off the shelf media).

The ultra vibe is very quiet (I can work in the shop which the Lyman I could not so there is a big advance there.)

The shop is open to the house and my very sensitive wife has no issue with it.

If you prefer our setup thats great, but not for the dust reasons (and it does have a seal on it though of course that makes zero difference when you open it)

My opinion for anyone sorting out that stuff is the Ultra Vibe is probably the best of the type and a lot less fiddly (for me) with fluids which I don't like. Others its not an issue so you have to decide where you fall.

Very much worth listing the opposite of what fluids do for you and the option to use media in its place but not at the expense of accurate information.

No idea if the tumbler works as well with media as the vibrator (I am skeptical but I have not tried it).

Quote:
I have a Thumblers rotary tumbler for 2 reasons:
1.) I do all my reloading indoors in an area that doubles as a living space/workshop. A vibratory tumbler will kick up way too much dust vs. a sealed tumbler cylinder that is sealed water tight.
2.) I can choose whether to dry tumble with corncob or walnut and have the added option of wet tumble with or without stainless media.

Just like reloading presses, cleaning your brass is a matter of personal preference, circumstance, and budget.

Any way you go, I recommend that you stay away from advice to skip brass cleaning altogether, the number one reason to clean it is to protect your reloading dies, second to that is that clean brass is easier to inspect for cracks and signs of impending failure.
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Old May 12, 2013, 11:58 AM   #16
Farmland
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I have a vibrator tumbler a 25 year Dillon to be exact. Do you need to pay top dollar for it to last twenty years? Probably not but I liked the size and color and well it has keep running for 25 years. My guess i other brands have lasted 25 years plus too. Thus it boils down to size, price and make that you want. Bottom line no matter which one you pick it will clean brass.

Dust? Heck yes there is dust. However it is not being tossed up into the air invading every little nook and cranny when it is operating. This just doesn't happen on one that have a rubber seal on the lid.

Now when you dump to separate the brand form the media yes there is going to be dust. Not much mind you but still there is dust, it usually just falls on the floor but I suppose some may get suspended in the air. I found using a dry sheet when cleaning my brass cuts way back on any dist.

Polish? You know just about anything will work. I use the Dillon stuff, car wax you name it and it works.

How Long? That is a good question. Sometimes the brass cleans in as little as an hour sometimes three. However the more brass you have in the tumbler the faster it cleans.

Are they quiet? The right answer is well no! Some my make less sounds but in general they make a little sound. Now the amount of sound is clearly dependent on the users adaption to constant sound. To me I have not found a tumbler that is a distraction.

A nice thing about my tumbler it works for small amounts and large amounts. It is nice to have the capacity to do large amounts of brass if needed.

Should I go wet or dry? Strictly a personal preference however many people will always be sure to try to prove to you why they went either way as being the best.

Just remember your cleaning brass not building a rocket. All methods works and if one is better than the other I doubt you would notice.

The nice thing is you have a lot of choice for something so simple.
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Old May 12, 2013, 04:00 PM   #17
DennRN
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Yes, polishing with corncob and walnut in a rotary tumbler is very effective.
Maybe I'll post a vid once I get back from vacation.

In terms of dust I may be biased but the way my friends vibe tumbler is set up, there is always sunlight coming from a window highlighting all the dust floating around. I guess it could also be that his garage is normally dusty.
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Old May 13, 2013, 05:29 AM   #18
Silver00LT
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Got a Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-Easy case tumbler. Love it...has not failed and it gets them nice and clean. I can't hear it from outside reloading room. I don't stay in the room while tumbling because of particles that could be thrown into the air.

It can hold a LOT of cases.
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Old May 13, 2013, 04:47 PM   #19
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Harbor Freight dual drum rock tumbler and 2 1/2 lbs of pins is about as cheap as you can get.a drop of Dawn detergent and a powder measure of Lemi shine and some hot water will give great results in an hour.I deprime first and the pins even clean the pockets shiny new.
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Old May 14, 2013, 10:07 AM   #20
boondocker385
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I tried the wet methods and thought they were too time consuming. I have a Lyman 1200. I take the clear lid off and put it outside in the wind....no dust problem....
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Old May 17, 2013, 08:13 PM   #21
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I have an RCBS tumbler and except for the color it looks identical to the one Harbor Freight has for half of the price. I got taken but I didn't think of HF st the Time

Also HF has a great price on the walnut media. I run mine for 20 minutes and the cases are clean enough for me.
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