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Old January 23, 2013, 07:28 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Tumbler 101... Thumler & media questions

got my stainless pins, & ran my 1st batch in my older RCBS sidewinder... really happy with how the brass looked when done ( I did add way too much dish soap, as I'm on my 3rd rinse & still getting some foaming )

the drum is slipping on my RCBS, thought about adding some belt dressing to the drive contact areas... thoughts ???

been looking at the Thumbler brand tumblers, since they seem to get the best reviews... I see they offer more tumblers for polishing rocks, than specifically for brass is there really a difference ???

I see E-Bay is loaded with Thumbler tumblers, most designated as rock polishers... there are several double drum units that look interesting...

... so how about sorting those little stainless pins... I have several media screens, all much too big for the lil pins do I need to use "dish towels" or what are you guys using to drain your pins & brass ???
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:23 AM   #2
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Screens only have to be fine enough to stop the brass. Let the pins fall through into a plastic bucket. A piece of hardware cloth bent into a bowl shape will work. A lot of folks just put a plastic collander over a 5 gallon bucket. The pins apparently are not austenitic, so a magnet will get strays (test this with your pins). Others are using these and just buy their own bucket, but I see they are currently out of stock. Also, currently they are made sized for 3½ gallon buckets instead of the ubiquitous 5 gallon paint buckets.

Thumbler B seems to be what most favor for pins. Shown in this article. It does rocks, case cleaning, moly-coating (with special plastic liners; moly sticks to their standard Neoprene liner). No difference in the machine needed for that.

There's an old arsenal case cleaning formula (from before they stopped cleaning oxides off brass, so this is WWI era) that's just 5% citric acid powder by weight (add 7 ounces to 1 gallon of water) that works fast and is reusable and good for the ultrasonic. I expect it's a good choice for tumbler, but you may be able to use a lot less considering the time involved, and toss it when you are done. Buying the citric acid as such is a lot cheaper than buying it as Lemishine. 10 lbs for less than $3/lb postage paid, here.

Citric acid softens water, so you don't really need a lot of detergent. Also, some detergents a alkaline and neutralize part of the acid. Try just a couple of drops of Dawn Essentials (no color or disinfectant or bleach or other additives other than scent) to help cut oil or grease.

Try cleaning the drum friction surfaces with alcohol. Don't use belt dressing, as it lubricates squeaks out and may actually make the drum slip worse. If it still won't grip, mix a little rosin in alcohol and paint it thinly on those surfaces and let it dry.
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Old January 23, 2013, 08:37 AM   #3
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Thanks for the suggestions... I'm in the food ingredient business ( I have lots of citric acid ) I put a pinch in last night... will probably dedicate a spare Lee powder dipper to the citric acid tub for the tumber...

will have to think about the rosin, that seems like the ticket???

I actually started looking on E-bay & see Chicago Electric ( yes, I know they aren't particularly high quality ) offer alot of dual drum tumblers like this one...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dual-Drum-Ro...item416f7bb4db

I'd think the dual drum tumbler would be benificial for someone with smaller quantities on lots of calibers of brass ( like I often end up with ) or if you guys have the dual drum tumblers, & find they are more hastle than 2 single drum tumbers, I may decide to go that route, as I have the space for a couple tumblers, & my ultrasonic ( which I'm not impressed with, & will now be regulated to cleaning nickle plated cases ) of course I'll keep the RCBS tumbler as long as it works
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Old January 23, 2013, 12:01 PM   #4
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If you are going to buy that dual drum tumbler, go get it directly from harbor freight as it's on sale and much cheaper than ebay.
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Old January 23, 2013, 12:25 PM   #5
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Thanks DAVID... went to Harbor Frieght's site... comments scaired the crab out of me... sounds definately better to buy a used Thumbler, than a new "cheap" tumbler...
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Old January 23, 2013, 01:08 PM   #6
serf 'rett
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I’ve used a single drum Thumler Tumber Model A-R1, rated for three pounds (of rocks) for several years. If I remember correctly, the Model A-R1 motor is the same as the one used on the dual drum A-R2 machine. I’ve easily cleaned over 20K pieces of brass with nary a problem.

My capacity may be a little less than what you need. My standard mix is roughly a pound of brass, a pound of stainless pins, enough water to cover the brass 1/4" to 1/2", a small amount of Great Value dish soap and 3 to 4 pinches of Lemishine. Seal and tumble for one hour for simple cleaning or 1-1/2 to 2 hours for super clean and shine. Some of my standard barrel loads: 150 pieces 9mm, 100 pieces 40S&W, 80 pieces .45ACP.

Because I’m dealing with a small capacity, I can easily use the kitchen or bathroom sink to rinse and separate the brass and pins. When I first started using the stainless pins, I picked up a couple of nested colander/bowl combinations from Wally World for around $1 or $2 each(?). Instead of holes, the colander has slots which are perfect for allowing the pins to drop through into the bottom bowl. Takes about 3 minutes to rinse and separate. (Just make sure you clean out the kitchen sink before washing dishes!)
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Old January 23, 2013, 01:20 PM   #7
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I got the kit from stm and it works great. Done probably 15-20k worth of brass so far.

I fill it up with the pins and brass till it is only 2 inches or so from the top. Bit less at times but I've found it cleans just fine up with that many. Then fill it with water till its an inch from the top. Pinch or two of lemishine and a squirt or two of dawn.

Tumble for an hour or two and then be done. I pour it in a media seperator, wash thebrass, then dry the brass. The pins I pour back into the canister and then just wash them a couple times and pour most of the water out. Then close it up. Takes about 5 minutes to do.
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Old January 23, 2013, 04:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
I picked up a couple of nested colander/bowl combinations
just did this today myself...

it's kinda hard to compare tumblers, when they rate them by pounds of rocks... as I was cross referencing models, I found the 3-4 lb drums are about 1/3 the size of my RCBS tumbler, so I need to be 9-12 lbs to be of similar size ???

I looked for Rosen locally today & couldn't find any... thought about applying some spray adhesive to the wheel, & see if that helps with the slipping ???
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Old January 23, 2013, 04:23 PM   #9
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How much additional wear does the stainless pin method impart on the brass? Seems to me that this is both a chemical clean, as well as more than just polishing due to the abrasive action of the stainless pins.
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Old January 23, 2013, 04:28 PM   #10
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well... obviously I'm not the one to answer, only having done one batch, but everything I'm hearing, the pins are not any harder on your cases than firing in the gun, & more will wear out from shooting, before tumbling ???

here is STM's website, & they answer some questions there...

http://www.stainlesstumblingmedia.com/
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Old January 23, 2013, 05:22 PM   #11
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a couple things I gleened from STM's site... they don't recommend round drums they like the drums with the flats ( I'd guess more adgitation, so it would work faster??? )
Quote:
DO NOT buy the MJR Tumbler, you need a hexagon shaped drum.
& ...

Quote:
Q. Will the media harm my brass?
A. No, the media will not harm your brass. It does not work harden, or damage your brass in anyway. We have a new piece of brass that has over 4000 tumbles on it with no measurably amount of weight lost.
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Old January 24, 2013, 04:34 AM   #12
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MWM,
Music supply store will have a block of rosin for your violin, or fiddle.
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Old January 24, 2013, 06:59 AM   #13
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may not have been the "correct" thing to do, but I put some spray adhesive on both wheel portions of the drum, & it seemed to work fine for a normal load of 45 Auto rim brass ( 125 of the Auto rim ) one squirt of Dawn soap, & one scoop of Citric acid ( I should have paid attention to the size maybe a 1.5 cc Lee dipper ) the cases I put in, were from a "lot" I bought here, that the guy was hoping to sell, before he had to scrap them... most were unfired, but about 125 of them looked like they'd been reloaded several times without cleaning... they all came out looking like new cases, except for a little crud left in the primer pockets... ( I'm sure that would have come out a lot better, if I'd have given them another 1/2 to an hour longer... as it is, they were tumbling for around 2 hours...

so... the RCBS tumbler is working with the stainless pins, but I'd still like a 2nd tumbler... since I got the info on the STM site, that has given me a better idea of what to look for on E-bay for used tumblers
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Old January 24, 2013, 11:51 AM   #14
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Frankly, I would stick with the Thumbler B. It's the one by far the most experiments with pin cleaning have been done with so you know the height from which it drops the cases and pins inside is acceptable. The round drums, as you read, will let the pins roll like little roller bearings and give you no drop. Too much drop will round neck mouths, bending them inward, and leave surface marks from the pin ends on the brass. Too little will leave flash holes dirty. It's a case of an empirical solution having been found and where deviating from it may produce unanticipated effects and results.
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Old January 24, 2013, 01:28 PM   #15
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Even the small Thumler barrels have flats inside their barrels. The flats offer some "grip" which reduces the amount the materials slide on the sides of the barrel; however, the important tumbling parameters are speed of rotation and the proper water/pin/brass mix.

If the speed and mix are right, you could tumble in steel paint cans in a home grown rig. A little bit of education in rock tumbling gave me a better understanding of the tumbling process.
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Old January 24, 2013, 02:31 PM   #16
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Have you been able to run some comparisons? I can think of a lot of ways to make a home tumbler, but I also had occasion once to buy brass from Jeff Bartlett which he warned had tumbled a little too long, and all the case mouths were turned inward and required expansion. I have also seen at least one photo of brass with the surface clearly stippled by stainless pins, which undoubtedly fell too far in whatever tumbler was involved in that cleaning.

So I suspect there's an optimal combination of drop distance (affected by drum size and rate of rotation) and number of falls (also affected by rate of rotation) for best compromise of cleaning and brass handling. I just don't know where those limits lie, exactly (hence my recommendation to stick with the known quantity). But if anyone can show other working combinations, but all means reveal them.
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Old January 24, 2013, 03:01 PM   #17
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Well I was not unhappy with my results last night using the RCBS Sidewinder, although I had "some" primer pockets that weren't totally clean ( the bulk of them were )... I was using 2.5 lbs of pins... the Sidewinder drum is ( I think ) large compared to some drums, so I tumbled for aprox 2 hours with "good" results... maybe 2.5 hours would be the ticket with the Sidewinder ??? maybe another 2.5 lbs of pins would make everything work in 2 hours ???

right now, depending on the source, the Tumler tumblers are anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months backordered...

if I can continue to get good results from the Sidewinder, I can live with that backorder time, if I need to, I wouldn't be afraid to buy a used Tumler, or other good quality, similar option
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Old January 24, 2013, 03:02 PM   #18
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part of a batch of 500 38 specials I did a week or two back, no tumbler or pins used, just soaked in water, soap and lemon juice in a plastic tub for 2 hours and rinsed. 100 % clean on outside, 95% clean on inside, on the ones that had been deprimed maybe 50% clean on primer pockets. I can live without 100% clean primer pockets.

Next day I did over 2K 9mm's in one batch same results. Over the course of a week working 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there I cleaned enough 38's, 9mm's, 45 ACP, and 223 brass to last me for a long time, total cost less than two dollars

Only problem cases wil be the ones that are tarnished black and they will come out with a pinkish hue because citric acid won't remove the cuprous oxide which will be under the black copper oxide. You need to dry polish to remove that, or just check it for pitting and if there is none ignore it.

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Old January 24, 2013, 03:36 PM   #19
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^^^^ whaaaa... um I don't know... the reason I'm not using my ultra sonic, is because soaking for 2 hours in there wasn't cleaning 25 cases... I'll save that one for my nickel cases...

you have an actual ratio of stuff you used ???
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Old January 24, 2013, 03:45 PM   #20
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Oh... BTW...

make sure you get all the old cob media out of your tumbler before switching to wet tumbling... looks like soggy grape nuts in my cases & in the pins... I think I had static on my drum, & not all the cob media would come out easily... add that I wanted to get pre washing my pins... figured I'd just rinse them out... that ain't happening... looks like it'll be many tumbling sessions before I get the last of them out of the system
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Old January 24, 2013, 03:49 PM   #21
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hounddawg - You have any idea of the mix ratio of water to lemon juice? Have you tried vinegar instead of lemon juice?

I'd really be interested in the solution pH.
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Old January 24, 2013, 05:19 PM   #22
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Unclenick,

Regretfully, I'm using a small A-R1 Thumler, so my tumbling tinkering has been limited. I suspect that most folks just use the "standard" mixes in their Model B without much variation; however, I couldn't find any information on brass tumbling in the small capacity three pound barrel I had left over from the kid's rock tumbling days.

From what I read on the net, I think I'm running a higher ratio of brass to pins, approximately 1:1, than most folks and running shorter times. I seem to recall reading that the 15 pound capacity B boys are running 8 pounds water, 5 pounds pins and 2 or 3 pounds brass at 4 to 6 hours. I'm cleaning a pound every 90 minutes.

With my small diameter drum, I haven't seen any damaged brass, even with 3-4 hours of tumbling.

One of these days, I'll start getting my government check and may be able to buy the Model B.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:01 PM   #23
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This place could help with a lot of your questions

http://www.stainlesstumblingmedia.com/

If you do a search online for the Thumler’s tumbler B high speed you can find some really good deals.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:11 PM   #24
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^^^^ whaaaa... um I don't know... the reason I'm not using my ultra sonic, is because soaking for 2 hours in there wasn't cleaning 25 cases... I'll save that one for my nickel cases...

and

hounddawg - You have any idea of the mix ratio of water to lemon juice? Have you tried vinegar instead of lemon juice?

I'd really be interested in the solution pH


you have an actual ratio of stuff you used ???


I honestly dont measure. I bought a big bottle of that concentrated lemon juice and use maybe 1/8 - 1/4 cup and we buy the costco dish detergent in bulk and dispense it out of a kitchen squeeze bottle so I give it a good squirt. Just enough to work up some suds.

cleaning procedure is as follows

Hot tap water with detergent and juice. Agitate by hand by just reaching in and pulling handfuls out and dropping them back in for 30 seconds or so, let it sit for maybe an hour or two and reagitate whenever I walk by it or feel the urge, maybe two or three times in a cleaning. If it is evening I may let them sit overnight but really see no difference after the first hour or two

Dump the soapy water and fill with clear a couple of times, dump into a old kitchen strainer to get most of water out. On large loads I might do this in a couple of batches. Roll em around in a towel to help dry further. Then into the mesh laundry bag, hang it off dryer door, thanks to whoever it was that suggested that BTW. After depriming you might want to dry them again for a few minutes before priming. Sometimes a drop of water might be trapped in the pocket. You can do a second wash if you want and about half the pockets will clean up.

You can clean as many or as few cases as you want in a three hours. Just don't expect 100% clean primers and seems as some powder residue are harder to get out of the interior than others. I would say though that 90% plus of the insides are clean as a whistle.

Also like I said in my earlier post , if the cases are corroded black, the citric will eat off the black copper oxide but leave the pink cuprous oxide. Polish those in a dry medium tumbler if that bothers you and inspect for brass pitting. I just toss em if they look iffy or cull out the really nasty ones before cleaning. Most of the range brass I get is reasonably new, I don't think brass survives more than a day or so at my club before someone harvests it.

been working on this method for about a year now after I sold my lathe and could not use my home made tumbler. So far I started with boiling and went to just really hot water and changed from vinegar to concentrated lemon juice. Supposedly the citric acid leaves a coating which prevents re-tarnishing but I ain't too sure about that. See thumbnail at bottom of post.

Anyway this method won't impress people like a Ultrasonic or a three hundred dollar wet tumbling set up but it gets the crud off and out of my cases. I save the money, rocket science and OCD nitpicking for the actual loading of my rounds. To me a clean case is a clean case but if I start harvesting brass at the public ranges I might get a cheap dry tumbler for the extra cruddy ones and the cuprous oxide issue

45's 9's and 223's done using same method,as you can see after a week or so the shine starts goes away but they are still clean. Maybe the dry tumbler with a bit of car wax after depriming and the shine would stay? If shiny is important to you of course.

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Old January 24, 2013, 08:24 PM   #25
paw080
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Hi MWM, I bought the STM kit; it has a very efficient case/ss pin separator

included. Here's a link that shows the separator in the kit:

http://www.stainlesstumblingmedia.co...e-package.html

it works perfectly.

Tony
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