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Old December 12, 2017, 12:57 AM   #1
TruthTellers
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Frankford Arsenal Vibratory Tumblers on sale. Should I get one?

I'm seeing them for $35 right now. I've had them on my watch list for a while as I don't have any vibrator tumblers at the moment, just my ultrasonic. I'm content with the ultrasonic, though it seems to take about 20-30 minutes to really clean out cases and primer pockets of carbon.

I have other potential uses for a vibratory tumbler, but the main use for me now would be case cleaning and polishing.

Worth getting for $35? Keep in mind that one also has to buy media and a separator, which runs the price up to about $60. I paid $80 for my ultrasonic and $4 for some Lemishine.

EDIT: Yeah, so one of the other reasons that I'm kind of interested in a vibratory tumbler is that they're supposed to make the cases shiny, or at least, shinier than the ultrasonic does. I know they won't do as well a job as wet rotary tumbler and stainless steel pins, but I'm not at that point right now where I can justify spending $200 on a rotary wet tumbler.

I would like to get shinier cases though. Can the vibratory tumblers do that?
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Old December 12, 2017, 03:52 AM   #2
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I don't have a vibratory tumbler (making a rotary tumbler as of now), but, for what I read, they take longer than 30 minutes to do their job...
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Old December 12, 2017, 07:27 AM   #3
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I wouldn't recommend the FA tumblers. I've had unsatisfactory results with them in the past. After a couple of "learning experiences" I now use Lyman and Dillon tumblers.
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Old December 12, 2017, 07:34 AM   #4
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I have a FA vibratory tumbler, no issues with it so far (18 months) but I don't load it down with max capacity. I bought a 20-25# box of media from HF but haven't opened it yet, still using the corn cob media I got when I got the tumbler. It works, I have one of the colander shaped plastic media seperators, it works as well but have found if I hold 2 or 3 cases at a time on the side/lip of the tumbler it will knock the majority of the media out. This method takes a bit longer but I'm retired, so I've got the time. Better than chasing down loose cases that escape when shaking the colander type device. JMO.
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Old December 12, 2017, 09:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
I have a FA vibratory tumbler, no issues with it so far (18 months) but I don't load it down with max capacity.
Me too, since last year. No problems here, either. I got my mixed corn-cob/walnut media off of eBay for around $10. I also decap and dump the cases in and vibrate for 1-2 hours. Works very well using Simonize liquid car wax - sparingly.

One extra I got was a timer to plug the unit into. I saw a post in this very forum about a small, electronic timer you plug the tumbler (or whatever...) into and have 1, 2, 4 and 8 hour settings. Works great. I believe the timer was about $20 and off eBay, too.
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Old December 12, 2017, 10:02 AM   #6
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I believe that my Frankford is as good as pretty much any other power tool. There really isn't anything to wear out or be damaged. I have run literally thousands, tens of thousands maybe.

It does take about two hours and I have used a plain $10 light timer. You can get walnut sandblast media at many big box hardware stores, or online, even Amazon.

The dead simple best thing I have ever seen is the sifting litter box. pour media and brass into the sieve and give it a little shake, the media falls through into the box, clean brass is in the sieve. pour from the box back into the tumbler. You can run huge loads of Stuff through it.

It's large, so it's not a good choice for a couple hundred rounds of 9mm. Probably far less expensive and easier to use than any other system. You can find them in many stores.

https://www.chewy.com/hometec-lift-n...yABEgICe_D_BwE
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Old December 12, 2017, 10:21 AM   #7
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I've got a pre-Frankford MIDWAY tumbler... I'm guessing it's about 25 years old and still chugging along. A vibratory tumbler has it's drawbacks, but it serves my purposes. If you already have an ultrasonic, I probably wouldn't waste my money unless you just have a specific need.

Nice thing about the vibratory... dump the brass in, go to work. Come home, separate the brass from the media, and you are punching primers a minute later.
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Old December 12, 2017, 11:52 AM   #8
hdwhit
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When my home-built rotary tumbler gave out after 20-some-odd years, I bought a Frankford Arsenal vibratory tumbler. I have been very satisfied with it.

I have a Harbor Freight cement mixer assembled with home-made gaskets at the seams to use for wet tumbling large volumes of brass at the family farm, but at home in the suburbs, the Frankford tumbler does a great job; particularly at removing resizing lubricant. I don't think you would regret buying one.
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Old December 12, 2017, 11:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Charlier 98 wrote:
Nice thing about the vibratory... dump the brass in, go to work. Come home, separate the brass from the media, and you are punching primers a minute later.
That's how I use mine. Start it, go to work, come home and everything is ready.

I use a plastic colander that I got from WalMart 30 years ago rather than a dedicated media separator and the colander has worked perfectly.
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Old December 12, 2017, 12:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
I'm content with the ultrasonic, though it seems to take about 20-30 minutes to really clean out cases and primer pockets of carbon.
Twenty to thirty minutes is really nothing to get the results you desire. Lots of folks here report going for a few hours. The media I recommend comes in 10 and 40 lb bags from $15-$33; 14-20 ground corn cob blast media. https://www.mcmaster.com/#corn-cob-a...media/=1anjikx

I haven't purchased "dedicated" reloading tools when a plain old item off the shelf will do just as well. I have a cat litter pan, a colander and a wire waste basket. I set the colander or basket in the pan, dump the contents on my tumbler into the basket and give it a few shakes. Media and brass are separated. Total cost is $3.00...
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Old December 12, 2017, 01:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie_98 View Post
I've got a pre-Frankford MIDWAY tumbler... I'm guessing it's about 25 years old and still chugging along. A vibratory tumbler has it's drawbacks, but it serves my purposes. If you already have an ultrasonic, I probably wouldn't waste my money unless you just have a specific need.
One of the things I've planned to do it to get into bullet casting, but I want to powder coat my bullets and I think the best way to powder coat bullets is to put them into a tumbler with the powder and let the tumbler do the work coating them.

So, I need a tumbler to do that and because I don't plan to use the tumbler all that much, I figure the cheap Frankford Arsenals would be a good choice.

I can't say that I'm going to start casting as soon as I get this tumbler, but I can't until I get the tumbler and I can always use the tumbler as a back up case cleaner in the event my Hornady ultrasonic craps out.
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Old December 12, 2017, 02:58 PM   #12
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While I'm not 100% sure, a wobbler/vibrator tumbler won't work for coating. I have used a rotary, but found a Cool Whip container shaken by hand to work quite well...

Just about anything you'd need to know about coating can be found here; http://castboolits.gunloads.com/foru...d-Alternatives
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Old December 12, 2017, 03:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikld View Post
While I'm not 100% sure, a wobbler/vibrator tumbler won't work for coating. I have used a rotary, but found a Cool Whip container shaken by hand to work quite well...

Just about anything you'd need to know about coating can be found here; http://castboolits.gunloads.com/foru...d-Alternatives
Yeah, I think tumblers will work just fine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaU-KsZAaAQ
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Old December 14, 2017, 12:11 PM   #14
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Ive got a frankford tumbler, had it for a few years now, it works just fine.

And yes, the vibratory with a media that has some polish added will shine brass like brand new.
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Old December 14, 2017, 03:17 PM   #15
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I have had two. I wore one out. It was a Midway model. The new one isfrankord aresonal. Its running in the garage now. I left the first one on over night all the time. It wore the bushings out on the motor.

This is my only way to clean brass. I bought the bucket and sifter from Midway. They are worth the money.

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Old December 14, 2017, 04:56 PM   #16
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This was the first tumbler I had when I started reloading. Did a decent job, but as others have noted, died one day for not apparent reason. Replaced with a more costly, but quieter Hornady model, which has been going strong for years now.
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Old December 14, 2017, 05:16 PM   #17
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Only tumbler I have, LOVE it.
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Old December 17, 2017, 12:20 PM   #18
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Related question: Someone mentioned the media separator/bucket. I have the separator used for SS media. Would that work for cob/walnut media separation as well?

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Old December 17, 2017, 12:25 PM   #19
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I have a that same Tumblr and have tumbled thousands of rounds with out a single problem. I don't us corn cob media in mine though. I go to pet store and buy lizard bedding which is walnut hull media. If you buy the same media from a reloading company it's twice as much. I would recommend it
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Old December 17, 2017, 12:26 PM   #20
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I also use a squirt of nufinish car wax in with it to polish it
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Old December 17, 2017, 08:35 PM   #21
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It has been mentioned that the Frankfort Arsenal tumbler may suddenly stop. Mine has done that twice and a wire broke at a terminal each time. A simple repair put it back in action. All that vibration is hard on wiring. I imagine most vibrating tumblers are subject to this problem at sometime.
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Old December 17, 2017, 08:47 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by math teacher View Post
It has been mentioned that the Frankfort Arsenal tumbler may suddenly stop. Mine has done that twice and a wire broke at a terminal each time. A simple repair put it back in action. All that vibration is hard on wiring. I imagine most vibrating tumblers are subject to this problem at sometime.
Would have to think the same, so doesn't make sense to pay extra for a tumbler that's probably susceptible to similar issues.
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Old December 19, 2017, 07:29 AM   #23
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I’d go for it. That’s a better price than what I paid for my HF vibe tumbler. You don’t need a separator. A kitty litter scoop or pasta strainer will work fine.
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Old December 19, 2017, 12:00 PM   #24
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How many brands of tumblers are built in the same factory? You can have 4 brands that all look alike, same as riding mowers.
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Old December 19, 2017, 03:53 PM   #25
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Nothing wrong with the FA Vibrating Tumbler...I've had one for 3-4 years now, with not one complaint....actually I like it .
It's a mid priced , home reloader use type unit and worth the money.
If it's from Midway, they will back it. Order the treated walnut shell media...it's good stuff .
You can use a large slotted cooking spoon to to remove the cases from the media. I let the unit run, it brings the cases up and I scoop them out....the media passes through the slots in the spoon. You do have to make sure that the cases are empty when "spooned " them out ,,,,but you do not have to buy a "case sererator.
A large plastic colander , with slots and enlarged holes to pass the media , placed over a 5 gallon bucket works just as well as a "seperator".
But I find spooning them out the bowl just as easy....all the media stays in the tumbler's bowl .
Gary
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