My homemade vibratory tumbler


September 21, 2008, 05:25 PM
Hi all, just thought I'd post a picture of result of my latest shop project, a vibratory tumbler. In reading some of the posts I see there has been a lot of discussion about them. This design is not that much different from the ones you can buy and not very complicated.

And to think, I could have been digging a drainage ditch instead of working on this....a no brainer huh!

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Eric F
September 21, 2008, 05:27 PM
um great what did you make it from?

looks cool though!

September 21, 2008, 05:33 PM
We need the mechanic's on how you put it together,
with pic's hehe.

September 21, 2008, 08:21 PM
You can buy one for $30. How much did that thing cost you?

September 21, 2008, 10:08 PM
Moptop, maybe one can be bought cheaper, but there is still nothing that can replace the pleasure of something made for yourself by yourself.


September 21, 2008, 10:34 PM
Everything except the plastic bowl & lid I already had. Scrap wood, saved motor (from what I don't remember), & rest out of the junk box. Sooo, $2.50 for the bowl at the Dollar General. That's it! I've always tried to build my own equipment when I can. It's just something I like to do. If anyone is interested I'll be happy to pass on any info on it's construction.

September 21, 2008, 11:14 PM
I love home made gear! Offset weight on the motor shaft?

September 22, 2008, 12:56 AM
I was going to convert a tumbler to a paint shaker for model paint, now I think I'll just make me a paint shaker.

September 22, 2008, 01:14 AM
Yankee ingenuity, gotta love it! I'm too lazy to go very far with it, but I had a buddy that would build anything he could before he'd buy it. Or at least give it a helluva try. He's built a lotta cool stuff, gotta admit.

September 22, 2008, 07:41 AM
I am interested in the design. I would love to have a larger capacity tumbler or the ability to run 2 at once. I have not bought a second one because it is excessive for me to have 2 and I can't justify the price to myself. If I could make one from scrounged parts and it only cost $3.00. That I can afford!

September 22, 2008, 07:43 AM
Vet nice. Well done.

September 22, 2008, 11:29 PM
very neat stuff,,good job

September 23, 2008, 11:06 PM
Gentlemen, let me get some good quality pictures to post and I'll give you the rundown on how I put this thing together. Got to dig a drainage ditch first...Hunydo project! :cuss:

September 23, 2008, 11:22 PM
I'd like to somehow make a really big tumbler to clean a few thousand at a time.:cool:

September 23, 2008, 11:53 PM
Parasite: How about a small cement mixer?

September 25, 2008, 05:01 PM
I'm tempted to do the same thing, as much for fun as anything. Doesn't look like it would be very hard to do, but I'm always interested in learning from other's triumphs and mistakes.

Thanks for posting that up.

September 25, 2008, 06:42 PM
Looks like a salad mixer for the garage........awesome sir.:)

September 25, 2008, 08:54 PM
Well folks, here are some pictures of the "insides" of this thing. I do know that you have to use a motor that spins at least 3000 rpm. The little phonograph type motors spin too slow, only 1300-1700 rpm, and do not have enough umpf (hp) to do any good. The one I used is about the size of a sewing machine motor. This one happens to spin at 5000 rpm. It only had mounting screws on one of it's flat sides so I slid a couple of 3" hose clamps under the bracket before I screwed it down so I could attach the second bracket, which needs to be mounted 90 degrees to the first one. I tried putting one on each side, 180 apart, but that only made the platform vibrate on only 2 of the 4 corners. Setting them 90 apart made a 4 corners vibrate equally. The counterweight is a bolt I drilled out for the motor shaft diameter and put in a small set screw to lock it on with. Let me tell you, you don't need a very big counterweight on it. The first one I used made the thing dance off the workbench! The action doesn't need to be too aggressive to do the job. The rubber mounts & springs are ,again, junk box items. I'm sure you can find simular springs at the hardware store. My local ACE hardware had a fair selection of them.
I hope this helps anyone who might wish to build one of their own. I'll gladly answer any questions If I can.

Have fun!

September 25, 2008, 09:33 PM
Parasite: How about a small cement mixer?

I'm working on one now. I got an elect. mixer from my neighbor for 50.00, (HF). I need to cut the fins off and make a cover for the front and I'm ready to try it out. I've never heard if it's been done before but I had to get something bigger than my RBCS tumber. I have way too many cases and had to figure out something different.

September 25, 2008, 10:52 PM
ar10 - look into industrial case cleaners the big guys use. They are typically the cement mixer shaped cleaners if my memory serves from Speer 13 manual pics of employees.

September 25, 2008, 11:00 PM
For about $56, I bought a really nice tumbler. Has lasted me for several years and still tumbles nicely. I'm not very handy regarding building stuff, but I don't think I could could build better for less. I do have an old VW air-cooled four-cylinder engine that I considered building into a tumbler set-up, but I never have 4000 empties at one time. cliffy

September 25, 2008, 11:04 PM
Nice to see how simple it was to make, that's what I like about this place, everyone has a way to do some task easier, cheaper, or better. I used the "Flower Wire" primer cleaner last week and was VERY happy with the results.

September 26, 2008, 12:29 AM
Nice work, but I'm lazy and pragmatic. I just bought mine. That Dayton motor you used is probably worth more than my Frankford Arsenal tumbler. Surely a better motor too.

Thanks for sharing, I admire your ingenuity. The whole key is to match the motor and suspesion springs that don't hit a resonant freqency while you have the motor running.

You can adjust the force imparted to the device by increasing or decreasing the distance away from the motor shaft and/or the mass of the offset weight.

Sometimes, when I overload my Frankford Arsenal tumbler, it'll find a resonant frequency and kinda hop it up and down and polish poorly. Keep an eye out for that.

To assist any of you interested in engineering the force imparted into your device, use this equation.


Fn = normal force, radial in this case
m - mass of offset weight
v - tangential instantaneous linear velocity of the offset mass. (V= r*omega) (omega is the rotation in radians per second, which is 2*pi*rpm)
r - radius of mass away from center of rotation.

I always use metric units, then convert, simpler math.

What this amounts to is simply increasing or decreasing the offset weight and it's distance until it works sufficiently. Adjusting the offset mass will not change the harmonics of springs, they may match or resonate the frequecy of your motor, which is revs per second in this case. 5000rev/min*1min/60secs = 83.3 revs/second However, overloading your tumbler might slow it down enough to do so as is the case in my storebought tumbler. If you devise your offset mass similar to the third picture, with a bolt that's threaded all the way to the bolt head, you can make it adjustable. You grind a flat spot in it at the threads portion right up against the bolt head or close to it to drill your through hole. Then drill and tap your retaining lock bolt or set screw through the head of the bolt. Now you have a portion of threaded bolt that you can screw a nylock nut on and have an adjustable tumbler.

Once you find your sweetspot, you'll probably never adjust it again, but since this is DIY and all, I thought I'd put some math behind it. If you made it this far, I'm surprised and thank you for letting me get my geek on.

September 26, 2008, 04:07 AM
This is mine.
Greetings from Spain.

September 26, 2008, 09:27 PM
jeepmor, thanks for the idea on the adjustable counterweight. I might try that to see if I can get a little closer in the tuning. Thanks to all for the "cudos". I'm a geek as well, or maybe a sure, jury is still out on that one.

September 26, 2008, 10:11 PM
Did you do all of that for grins or was you really trying to save $40.00? it sure seems like a lot of effort to save $40.00.:confused:

September 26, 2008, 10:26 PM
mop top that is sooo cool. Wow great job. Can you make a whole bunch of them and send them to us. you can put me on the list

September 26, 2008, 10:50 PM
ar10 - look into industrial case cleaners the big guys use. They are typically the cement mixer shaped cleaners if my memory serves from Speer 13 manual pics of employees

Don't need to now. Got that sucker running today. I dumped 2k cases in the thing and it looks like the cases are greats.
Sorry about hijacking the thread.

September 27, 2008, 12:53 AM
I admire the home built stuff.

As far as the cement mixer I hear that they spray them with bedliner or undercoat. Not sure if that is to protect cases or help the media rollover.

September 27, 2008, 09:28 AM
Moptop, I can see many just don’t understand that it not all about the money. Funny thing is these are the same guys that will pay $10 for a micro waved / heat lamped hamburger instead of cook a $9 steak for themselves…different strokes, I guess.

Good job.

September 27, 2008, 11:20 PM
can't call yourself a "gearhead" untill you play on a IM hockey team called "The Gearheads" :neener:

September 28, 2008, 12:27 AM
Well I can't play hockey but I do play guitar in a band....hence my nickname!

I tried out my tumbler today and it worked great. I used corncob, which I borrowed from my cockatiel, and a small amount of Wrights brass polish. Only took a couple of hours to put a shine on the 9mm brass I used a guinea pig. I'll pick up some lizzard walnut bedding this week and see how that works.

September 28, 2008, 12:46 AM
i like home built stuff too.

very cool. ive been thinking about building a rotary type like a thumler tumbler.

love your motor mount, lol. great looking rig.

September 28, 2008, 03:22 AM
Parasite: How about a small cement mixer?

I'm working on one now. I got an elect. mixer from my neighbor for 50.00, (HF). I need to cut the fins off
ar10 ya might wanna leave some fins raised just above the drum surface, in order to help rotate the brass mix around a little, otherwise you'll just end up polishing all the cases on the bottom. I'm just guessing though.

September 28, 2008, 10:29 AM
great enginuity moptop. I love it. It damn sure shows we can make it through a resession and still enjoy our passions.

September 28, 2008, 10:31 AM
hell me and flyinbrian make all kinds of homemade gear. you should see his loading station. and hell I use my old guitar cases as gun cases when we go to the range. I wont even go into our minnow net brass catchers. keep it up mate.

September 28, 2008, 09:21 PM
Once again guys, thanks for the good words. It's not that I don't have the 40 clams to buy one, now I can't "redirect" those funds for umm... 500 9mm or .38 bullets, powder, primers, or a heck of lot of .22 rounds! I've always loved building stuff from junk & scrap, which amazes my friends to no end. Just my way of stretching the financial power! :)

...but I still use guitar cases for!:D With my luck, I'd grab the wrong case and show up at a gig and pull out an 03A3, Won't that go over great at a Bar.

September 29, 2008, 06:41 AM
Moptop, cool thread & cool gizmo, thanks for the inspiration, I'm going to have a go myself.I think I've tracked down a place that does crushed walnut shells, but can someone tell me what size the crushed shell you guys use is?

September 29, 2008, 07:43 PM
I think it is 12/20.
You can get it from a Sandblast supply house

Called a local place they had it. 12/20 is the only size they have. Was around 15 bucks with tax. I got a bag gave 15 pounds to a friend with the receipt.
It appears nearly identical to the Kaytee brand for pets. There is a slight color difference & that is about it. It worked fine. 30 vs a 1.00 plus per pound.

Grainger & Harbor freight have something also.

I just saw you are in New Zealand. Had some friends that went there to hunt.
Ignore the US references about price & place to buy.

September 29, 2008, 09:30 PM
AR10, in re-reading one of your posts I see that you are going to convert a cement mixer for tumbling. I live very close to Sedalia where there is a Sierra Bullet factory and had the privledge of touring their facility last summer. Very nice folks there. My father & I go there to buy bulk bullets they call "seconds". They are sold by the pound and usually have most cals in stock. These are only called seconds because they are not up to Sierra's cosmetic standards. They are perfectly fine performance-wise. Heck of a price if you don't mind the appearance. Anyway... Cement mixers is exactly what they use to polish the finished product before packaging. As slow as the turn they did not use any kind of cover or lid and had no problem with losing anything out the front. They also used walnut shells as their media. They also added a small amount of some kind of oil but I can't remember what it was.(sorry) I do remember the man saying that the shells lasted a very long time before they needed to be changed.

Just thought I'd drop in a little encouragement here!

September 29, 2008, 09:57 PM
i think you need to hook us up with some of those bullets.

September 30, 2008, 07:06 AM
WNTFW, thanks for the ideas, we have sandblasting outfits nearby so I'll make some phone calls, hopefully they use something similar, I'll keep the size thing in mind too, I found some other threads since I posted that & have a better idea of what I'm after now.
Hope your friends enjoyed their time in NZ & that they had a good hunt.:)

September 30, 2008, 08:59 AM
Don't mean to hijack this thread, but my question has to do with home-made tumblers...

I found my old electric ice cream mixer in the garage the other day. The canister is rusted, so I don't really want to use it for food anymore. The motor runs, though, and this thread got me wondering:

Do you think this would work as a tumbler for pistol cases?

I've been saving my nickles and COULD buy a tumbler, but the idea of throwing out a "good" ice cream mixer galls me...and for the price of buying a new canister, I can get the whole new thing at Wally World for the same $$. So, I could be Al Gore's friend...recycling not only my brass but also my ice cream machine!!!


September 30, 2008, 11:08 PM
Quoheleth, I haven't made too much homemade ice cream in my day but the last time I saw one I remember it turning kinda slow....and wouldn't that paddle thingy inside crush the cases or get them caught in between it and the canister? Maybe if you put it on its side it might work okay but I'm think'n it would be sloooow going.

Just my 2 cents worth.

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