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Old October 15, 2001, 03:24 PM   #1
Blarneystone
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Homemade Brass Tumbler???

Hi all,

My wife just put me on a budget and then cut my allowance...why do I feel like a 10 year old?

Anyway, I'm looking for an inexpensive way to build a tumbler to polish my brass. Currently, I jimmied up a versapak screwdriver and an adapter and spin my cases clean. This does a GREAT job of making them look brand new and all, but it takes a long time to do.

I've read here about some methods like putting rice or corn cob media into a coffee can with the brass and rolling the thing around with a bit of car wash dribbled in for good measure, but that doesn't seem to work for me. I can't roll a can around for the recommended 4 hours.

I've tried vinegar. And although it shines the cases up pretty quickly, the shine doesn't last long. I find I still must polish the cases...Otherwise, they will stick in the revolver and cause rotation problems with the wheel.

I've read of others here buying an old used icecream maker from wal-mart or someplace and setting it up with rice or corncob media. How well does that work? Anyone here tried it?

I'm thinking about taking apart some of my son's old toys that either bounce, vibrate, or roll and trying to manufacture one, but I'm not sure how much movement the real tumblers and vibrators administer to the brass and media. Do the midway tumblers vibrate hard and fast like a paint mixer or is it more tame like a "wife pleaser" muscle relaxer?

Many Thanks for any advice or comments!
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Old October 15, 2001, 03:26 PM   #2
bastiat
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You could figure out a way to do it in your dryer. I'm sure the wife wouldn't mind.....for a while, anyway.
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Old October 15, 2001, 08:44 PM   #3
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I think I read a thread on TFL that some good ole' boy would put some media in a bag with the cases, toss them in the bed of his truck which had bad shocks, and drive home on a bumpy road. Being a city boy myself, I can't vouch for how well this works. I'm looking for a Dillon CV-500 as we speak.
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Old October 16, 2001, 11:21 AM   #4
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put the brass on a pair of your wife's old pantyhose and toss them into the dishwasher. Do this when she is not home of course. Be sure to run the dishwasher empty afterwards to clean out any stuff thatmayhave stuck to the insides. Works well.

An alternative is, use phosphoric acid cit 1:20 with water. Cleans the brass fast, so only dip and dunk a few times, then wash off with plain water.
Lay the brass out to dry. A few swipes with a course towel should smooth up the brass enough to prevent sticking in the cylidners. Do this in front of the Mrs. moaning and groaning about it. Best in the living room, while she is trying to watch her favorite TV show. Softly give a little groan or sigh and keep working. EVentualy she will get tired of your belly aching and let you get a tumbler.

PS. I may still have a set of plans on a home made tumbler at home. ("May have" because of a hard drive crash a few months ago) It doesn't really appear to be cheaper than a store bought unit. It involves a motor, springs, a huge bowl and some plywood. I'll look tonight and let you know.

PSS. Can you justify a small cement mixer? They have them at Harbor Freight for a couple hundred bucks. You can claim a duel purpose for the mixer.
I did that. I mix cement for home projects,tumble brass and my better half uses it to tumble rocks for jewelry.
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Old October 17, 2001, 03:14 PM   #5
Jack Straw
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Blarneystone,

The Midway tumbler doesn't vibrate anywhere near as hard and fast as a paint mixer. It would be more like a *BIG* muscle relaxer.

"Wife pleaser muscle relaxer"!!! Man, that one has me on the floor laughing my a.....HEY!!! No wonder she's been spending so much time in the garage!

Well that's one way to get me to cut back on my reloading.

Jack
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Old October 17, 2001, 03:41 PM   #6
nedfig
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BS
I'm in the process of making one that resembles a tumblers tumbler. I took a 3 speed oscillating fan that my daughter broke the blades off and I gutted it. Then I mounted the motor on a slab of 2x6. I got a cheap pulley wheel from home depot and mounted that on the blade spindle. Then I'm gonna either drive a 5lb coffe can with a belt or just mount a 1lb coffee can directly to the splindle. I'll post some pics when I get it done.
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Old October 17, 2001, 05:18 PM   #7
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I made my own tumbler using a mayonaise container. Imagine a cement mixer with this attachment on its side (dont know it in English). I use corn cob for media. You could clean your brass while watching TV.

vega
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Old October 18, 2001, 01:25 AM   #8
hebejebe
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Simple steps to clean brass

Come home from shooting session.
Dump brass into cheap plastic container (kitty litter boxes are cheap and large enough; coupla bucks should get ya coupla containers.)
Take to kitchen/bathroom/basement sink.
Squirt dishwasher liquid in container.
Fill with warm water.
Shove hands in container.
'Tumble' brass manually for five minutes.
Carefully empty water.
Run water into container manually tumbling till soapy water runs clear.
Dry on newspapers/towels/rags overnite or until thoroughly dry.
Proceed to reloading.

Do you want to shoot or make 'purty bullets'?
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Old October 18, 2001, 08:00 AM   #9
Blarneystone
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Found some plans!!!

Hey, thanks for the feedback everyone! ...based on someone here saying there might be plans on the internet, I did a search and low and behold found these plans....

http://home.speedsoft.com/theashes/tumbler/tumbler.html

I'm about 3/4 of the way finished building this and giving it a whirl. I took apart an old fan, used some old screws and bucket under the house. Substituted bathroom sheetrock that I had on hand for the plywood and made some other little tweaks, but all and all have stuck to the directions. I am really hopeful this works. My only problem is finding the counterweight. I don't really have any metal shop tools, so I am going to have to improvise.If anyone else gives this a try, let me know!

Brad
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Old October 19, 2001, 03:27 PM   #10
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Dang! Wouldn't you know it...

I tore my house apart looking for those plans that were saved on a disk. Finally found them last night, then my ISP was down for maintenance and you found them. Just as good, sorry I took so long.
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Old October 19, 2001, 07:26 PM   #11
Blarneystone
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Sorry about that stuckatwork! I do appreciate it.

Mine is put together now. I don't know if I am actually finished or not. I have it all assembled and it is on...been on for 1/2 hour. I just don't seem to see much action..yes, it is vibrating, but I don't see the media 'flowing' the way I expected, it's just kindof shaking in there.

I know there is probably no way to describe how much this thing should be shaking, but if you have any ideas, I'd be very grateful!

Thanks again!
Brad
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Old October 20, 2001, 09:27 PM   #12
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Find someone with a Harley and dump brass and media in his saddle bags. Shouldn't take long. Afterall, a Harley is the best vibrating machine built.
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Old October 21, 2001, 05:47 AM   #13
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The dishwasher method works pretty well, but I wasn't fully confident all the stuff off of the empties was getting out of the dishwasher afterwards, even with running it empty.

A guy at work made a tumbler out of an ice cream freezer which was on sale at Wal-Mart. I followed his lead, but it didn't work very well or for very long.

I then went to hebejebe's method, washing the brass in dishwashing liquid and water. Cleaned the brass fine, but didn't polish at all. Also you had to let then brass dry before you could reload it.

About ten years ago I bought a Midway tumbler when they were on sale. Works better, cleans and polishes, and no waiting for the brass to dry afterwards. Not too expensive, either.
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Old October 21, 2001, 08:26 PM   #14
Blarneystone
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Well, I am on my third go around with this now and I think it's finally working. The first two times, the fan motors I used were a little too small. This latest one was from a big 3 speed fan. If anyone is wanting to try this at home, I recommend reading those directions and using a large 3 speed fan motor. When he says use a "small motor." It's not a very good description.

Also, there is a temptation to tighten all the nuts very tightly. the nuts that support the plywood need to be loose. For the counterweight, that was the toughest piece for me to put together because I couldn't find the piece of steel the directions called for. The pulley he talks about? I don't have any idea how he hooked that up. Finally, I took an old mower blade and cut out the counterweight. Man, that was a pain, but was accomplished with a Dremel.

Well, if there was any question of whether it was vibrating before, it DEFINATELY is now! I put it in the middle of the garage because it scoots itself slowly all over the place. The corncob media flows from the outside in, kind of like a whirlpool.

Now to get some Blue Coral car polish.....
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Old October 21, 2001, 09:40 PM   #15
labgrade
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Get a .30 or .50 cal ammo can, fill 1/3 with your brass & 1/3 with kitty litter.

Toss this into the clothes dryer while The Wife's at home. Allow to agitate (her) for 5 minutes & I'll betcha she takes you to get a store bought tumbler.

Far as how much actions going on with the media, the tumbler itself shakes like a "muscle relaxer," but the media & brass inside sorta just turns itself over about every 5 seconds or so.
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Old November 21, 2001, 06:10 PM   #16
bmcneil
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Blarneystone,

I'm intersted in building your tumbler here.

How has it been working for the past month?

Thanks!
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Old November 21, 2001, 09:02 PM   #17
Blarneystone
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bmcneil,

Well, I'll tell you what, it does require adjusting every now and again, but it cleans very well and very quickly - albeit loudly. Even a buddy who stopped by the other day remarked: " Those are some shiny shells!" I usually tumble for an hour to an hour and a half.

Yesterday, I left it running for several hours and returned to find it had stopped. Since the motor is turned up instead of on it's side, the center rod sinks down to where the magnetic field is thrown off balance and the motor stops. I simply use a small crowbar to pull it back out (it sounds ridiculous I know, but it's about a 50lb pull at a weird angle to get the rod back out) and it starts working again.

Also, I would only do this project if you had the tools and parts already lying around, otherwise, I can see how it would cost some people more to build it than to just buy a Midway tumbler. Make sure you have a large fan motor, some plywood, and a bucket. The rest isn't that expensive. I cut a piece of steel out of an old lawnmower blade for the counterweight. Mounting it was a pain though. Finally, I bought some JB Weld from home depot for $4.00 and it worked GREAT!

Please let us know if you go through with it!!

Brad
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Old November 21, 2001, 09:17 PM   #18
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Thanks blarneystone,

And what combination of media do you use in your homeade tumbler?

Could you provide me with your email address in case I have any further questions?

Thanks!
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Old November 22, 2001, 05:52 AM   #19
Bud Helms
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Dogjaw!!
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Old November 22, 2001, 01:08 PM   #20
Blarneystone
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bmcneil,

I private messaged you my email address...check your PMs!
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Old November 22, 2001, 02:26 PM   #21
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If you want a good easy vibrating case cleaner take a 5 gal bucket and get a metal plate that fits inside of it. Bolt your moter assembly to this and hang in the garage using the handle of the bucket to attach a rope to. Get a good small moter that had a decent size shaft and good bushings. running the moters out of balance like that is kind of hard on them. dryer moters work well.
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Old November 22, 2001, 07:54 PM   #22
dick w. holliday
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i did the same thing as Bad Karma and it worked like like a champ except i put plywood in the bottom of the bucket and bolted motor to it--i think my motor finally died and i ended up with the small dillon vibrator--i think it's going to outlast me.......Dick
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Old November 24, 2001, 11:37 AM   #23
Chemistry
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The wife won't allow you to spend 50 bucks?

http://www.shooterstore.com/acb/show...7501&CATID=577

Berry's tumbler for $49.99, shipping included. Midway's 1292 should also be in the same price range...
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Old February 11, 2002, 06:47 PM   #24
vega
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From the grave

I have to dig this up and give my report. I made my own with a few minor adjustment ant it works perfectly well. Total cost is $5.
Well maybe a little less. Found an old working auxilliary fan in my garage with one broken blade and used that as a motor.

Thanks for the link Blarneystone.

vega
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Old February 13, 2002, 02:20 AM   #25
MikePower
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Find that old furnace blower or washing machine motor that you have in the garage. Clamp it to the edge of the picnic table.

Couple a 12" extention onto the shaft.

Dump your media and brass into an old tire and hang it on the shaft; put a pully or something on the end so that the tire won't slide off. Plug in the motor and let me know if it works.
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