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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When I first got into reloading my goal was to be able to shoot more for less money, or at lest the less money part. So I tried to get descent equipment for as little money as possible. I got a Frankford Arsenal media vibratory tumbler, and it worked great! Until I plugged it in one day, and it would run, but barely. I tried a few things, but after only two years the motor was shot. I was a little miffed since I feel that is way to short of a life span, but... Made in China. end of story.

I decided this time around I was going to do what I wanted to do the first time and get a Thumbler's Tumbler and steel media pins. I figured if I have to keep buying the vibratory ones, and the media, I might as well save myself some money in the long run (hopefully).

So far I am very happy with the results. At first I had a hard time with it. Not sure what went wrong, but when I finished the third tumble of 9mm they came out BLACK! like their was a fine film of grease all over them. I would wipe it off with my fingers, but it was on there good. I have no idea what I did, or how the contaminate got in there, but I was like WTF!! I could see that the pins were very very dull in color and by this point they should have been shiny. So I tumbled the pins by themselves for a long time, and they only looked marginally better. I cleaned out the drum, and put in corn cob media and tumbled just the brass that came out so crappy, they came out great after a few hours and I cleaned all the media out and thought I would go back to the water and pins, when I got the idea that maybe since the corn cob did such a good job on the brass, it would clean the pins.. so I dumped the pins and the media in together... BIG MISTAKE!! Not only did it not really do anything for the pins, but now I had to separate out the corn cob media.. No problem I will just use a magnet! Wrong... when I would drag the magnet through the combined media the corn cob got all caught up in the steel pins stuck to the magnet! SHEESH! what a mess. After diligently going over top of the media just high enough to pick up the pins, but not the corn cob... 3 hours later... its done. I still however have the problem of greasy/dirty pins. the only thing I could think of was brake kleen. After hosing the pins down with three cans of brake kleen they were finally shiny. from that point on my brass has come out great!

Just to test how good this thing works, I dug some ugly, very tarnished brass out of the recycle bucket. So I could see the difference I kept one piece out as a control piece. This brass had been laying outside so long it had tarnished black, and typically I would just toss in the recycle bucket, because I have never been able to get them completely clean with the corn cob media.

No more buying corn cob media. one container of dish soap will probably last for a decade, and the Lemi shine is cheap and will last a long time as well. not are the outside of the cases clean, but the inside are as bright and shiny as the outside. Including the primer pockets! I know the brass does not have to be shiny clean, but it sure is nice!

The Tumbler was kind of expensive, but in the long run I hope it will save money in media alone.

It does have some drawbacks and flaws though.

- The electric motor it comes with is way underpowered. I had to put a fan on it to keep it cool. a motor should be warm to the touch, but this thing was getting way too hot! It says it will hold 15lbs. of combined weight in media/water/shells. I try to keep it will under that due to the hot motor. When/if it goes, I am going to try and modify it to take a bigger motor. preferably one NOT made in China.... if that is even possible anymore without breaking the bank.

- The pins can be a little hard to get out of small mouth cases like .223/5.56

- the drive belt is a little pathetic, it is some kind of clear plastic, I would recommend ordering one to have on hand, because I see it breaking easily.

Other than these few things it works really, really well. The only way you could get them shinier would be to tumble them in Tuff Nut after tumbling in the pins. In my experience Tuff Nut will make them shine so brite, it is hard to look at them in direct sunlight.

Clean primer pockets
DSC08072.JPG

Dirty 5.56 brass. With one 7.62x39, one 30/30, and one 8mm Mauser.
black cases.jpg

clean cases with one tarnished case.
clean cases.jpg
close up clean cases.jpg

Tumbler
Thumblers Tumbler.jpg

some of the big positives is you wont be breathing that dust from dumping out corn cob media, no harsh chemicals, and it is supper quiet!
 

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I started wet tumbling a little over a year ago and will never go back to dry media. It is astonishing how good the brass looks. The only change I made to the tumbler was adding a supporting bracket to the back of the motor housing. Prior to that it was only supported on one side by a flimsy bracket that flexed and vibrated.


I have had that greasy brass syndrome once or twice and never could pinpoint the cause. I thought perhaps it could be some spent primers, powder residue or even unburned powder. I pre-rinse my brass in a bucket before tumbling now just to remove any loose gunk.


I also use a Lyman media separator that I think is designed for dry media but it works fantastic for the wet as well. About a minute cranking in it is enough to get every pin out of the brass (except for the 1 in 200 situation where 2 pins lodge in the flash hole of some brass).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Does your motor get hot? mine gets really hot! like you can't touch it for more than one second kind of hot. I don't see a electric motor lasting very long like that. The fan keeps it nice and cool, but I should not have to use a fan to use the tumbler. maybe I just got a bad motor? When it goes I am NOT getting another one of these! hopefully I can find a better motor with similar RPMs.
it is really my only complaint aside from the cheesy drive belt. The drum and liner are very well made.

I am glad someone else has had the greasy brass problem! I thought to myself.. "man, I must be the only guy who can eff up tumbling brass!" I wish I had a picture of my face when I opened up that drum and pulled out black brass! LOL!
 

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I just turned it on and I'll let it run for a bit and then shoot it with an IR thermometer and let you know.

FWIW I probably have about 200 hours of operation on mine with no issues (even the belt still looks fine).
 

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I have read about issues with the black greasy stuff. The one thread I read attributed it to RCBS spray lube. I have tried Forster's lube, Redding's lube, and RCBS lube and have had no issues. I use an ink pad. No spray lubes here. I do know you should tumble new SS media alone , before adding brass. Maybe the lube used to manufacture the SS media is causing this.

I have had no issues with separating the media from 223 cases. I use a media separator half submerged in water. Rotate it and the water helps move the media out of the cases. In fact I haven't had one case that has had SS media in it after separating.
 

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I do not have the Thumblers. I use the dual drum rock tumbler from Harbor Freight. I use 1lb of pins per drum. They will hold up to 50 .308 cases and clean them.

You need the lemishine to soften the water for best results unless you H2O is soft.

So 1lb pins in drum with brass. Add 1/2 level TSP of lemishine. Fill with water and a squirt of Dawn which is a great grease remover as well as general cleaner. I tumble for 3 hours. So I can do 100 .308 or equiv brass per run.

I use my RCBS mediate seperator and the large tub for rinsing. I remove as much of the dirty wash from the tubs. The SS pins are heavy enough to take a light faucet rinse on the tub without the pins washing out. I dump the tubs and rinse them over the media tub and sepetator and this will let most of the SS pins remaining to wash fee and collect in the lower tub. When the brass becomes submurged the pins in the cases usually float free and if you remove the case primer side up, the SS pins will fall free. This will happen if you rinse each case individually.

Place the brass on a towel to dry or dry the in an oven on a cookie sheet at 200 deg or less for drying. Rinse the tub water cleam8n empty as the SS pins are on the bottom then transfer pins back to tumbler. Dry the pins in the oven for tem storage until used again.

You can also buy sieves to do the same. The top sieve catches the brass, the lower sieve catches the pins. Water flows through both down the drain.

Adjust your recipe as needed.
 

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I'm getting 129.8 F max on the motor housing after about 30 mins operation.

BTW for drying I spread the wet brass on a towel with an old box fan angled down blowing air over it. It dries really fast this way compared to just leaving it sit out which is what I used to do before trying the fan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I always stay caught up with plenty of clean brass, so I just let them sit on a sheet pan with a towel for a couple of days.
For separating the media I just use the 4 dollar gold panning looking thing with holes in the bottom. it takes longer but I can more easily store it than the tub media separators. I am running out of room in my garage!

I don't reload .223/5.56 so getting the pins out of them is not really an issue. I just used them because they were the worst cases I could find in my bucket. Others that come over to shoot bring the .223 brass, and I just pick it up if they don't want it. Someday I will probably load for it, but not yet.

With straight wall cases the pins just fall out when I pick them up, except for the occasional one that gets stuck with water tension.

either way I am never going back to the vibratory tumblers again. even if you don't like the pins and water, it still works nicely with dry media. but really tumbling wet has got to be healthier for you.

I did not think about using the infrared thermometer, I will try that later and see what the temp actually is. From what I know of electric motors, they should not run HOT to the touch in most cases. Warm, but not hot.
 

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Yeah check the temp if you can; while not very scientific I can hold my hand on the housing without having to remove it, so I expect your temp to be a good bit hotter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Why do I keep putting a B in Thumler's Tumbler??

It could just be my hands are just sensitive now that I am a housewife. :th_happy-rotfl4:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah, its the model B, I was talking about my poor spelling as usual. "Thumbler's Tumbler" is supposed to be Thumler's Tumbler.
 

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I got the greasy black junk on some brass one time. Threw me for a loop since I followed directions the first time out, tumbling pins alone, and then had many, many, subsequent loads with fired brass and no issues. Wouldn't you know, the greasy pin issue showed up out of nowhere, on two seperate tumblers (a model B and a STM heavy duty,) running two batches at the same time...

If I recall correctly, I think I tried to cut out a step, lubing the fired brass (don't remember if I cobbed them first, or just ran them through the bowling ball towel routine) and lubed/re-sized them *then* wet tumbled them. Note: I previously, and subsequently, wet tumble, *then* lube, re-size, and cobb them. Anyway...

I landed up cobbing the two gunked brass loads (fixed the brass,) and then cleaned the pins and barrel with mineral spirits. Problem was solved, and hasn't returned yet...

Even with that one incident, wet tumbling still rocks. I continue to wet tumble deprimed fired brass, then cobb my sized cases to remove the lube. No issues, and the black gunk issue hasn't returned :-D

Safe trips

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk
 

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Interesting how the "slime" came about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yeah check the temp if you can; while not very scientific I can hold my hand on the housing without having to remove it, so I expect your temp to be a good bit hotter.
This is not one of the better IR thermometers, but seems to work fairly well. I got the highest reading of 133.2 F. and a low temp of 118.5 F. . I am going too keep the fan on it because I can keep the temp down to almost 100 F depending on the ambient temp. I may be wrong, but for such a little motor 133 F seems a little to warm. I know with motors resistance creates heat, and heat creates more resistance, and so on. So I figure the cooler the better!

as far as the greasy gunk goes, I have not seen it return, and in fact the brass is coming out even better with each tumble it seems. This last batch of .45 brass was beautiful!
 
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