Can a tumbler/vibrator run too long?


July 15, 2011, 01:34 AM
Hi all. As some know, just got my rockchucker so I'm probably going to be asking a billion questions in this part of the forum.

From what I understand about polishing brass, you are basically wearing of thousanths of a millimeter at a time to make brass shiny. My question is, how long can you leave brass in a tumbler before it starts to attack the case's integrety. I have some kind of red Lyman tumbling solution that is leaving a little residue in the cases. I added some mineral spirits to quench the dust a little and it seems to be getting gradually better the more I run it. Having thoughts about throwing my 30-06 brass in there and letting it run all night. Any thoughts?

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July 15, 2011, 02:11 AM
You can let it run for days without ill effects.

July 15, 2011, 02:22 AM
Throw away that Lyman media, it's crap. Get some Kaytee Walnut Bird Litter from Petsmart, use it dry for cleaning brass. Or mix a little NuFinish Car Polish in it for some shine. I personally use the walnut dry, then tumble again with 20/40 grit corncob with the NuFinish in it, about a teaspoonful, let it mix in well before adding the brass. No residues, and the brass shines like it's new.

The walnut is abrasive enough to clean the brass quite well, but too abrasive to really shine it. It will stick in the primer flash holes though. The corncob is soft, and with the polish added is very effective at shining. Very small too, won't stick in the flash holes.

And I typically run mine for 6-8 hours with a timer, which is more than enough time to do the job, but you can't hurt it by running longer.

July 15, 2011, 07:08 AM
I agree about the Lyman media, but instead of walnut from PetSmart you might want to seriously look into this,
or this

either one is more than reasonable in price and no gas expense driving around to get it at $3.50 plus a gal.
The second one listed is fine enough you will have no clogged primer pockets or flash holes, add a little liquid auto cleaner/polish from just about any maker, Nu-Finish, KIT, MeGuires, Mothers, any of the work just great. Only use a small amount per tumbler full teaspoon is usually more than enough and only add ever 5 or 6 cleaning sessions.

As far as how long to run the tumbler? Whatever trips your trigger, I usually let it run overnight while I sleep.

Your brass will shine like new.

July 15, 2011, 07:34 AM
My "tumbler" is home made and use a 3# coffee can as the drum. Before I put a timer on it I've left it on overnight running corn cob media. The cases really come out shiny!
Most of the time it'll run it for 3 hours.

July 15, 2011, 11:09 AM
If you can tolerate the noise run it as long as you want.

July 15, 2011, 11:52 AM
thanks all, now off to search for OAL, maybe another post in about half an hour.

Master Blaster
July 15, 2011, 12:06 PM
Three hours with good media should be enough, you could burn the motor out if it ran indefinitely...

July 15, 2011, 12:10 PM
Mr. Wit's suggestion on the Drill Spot is great.

If I'm going to run my tumbler all night, I sit it on the driveway. That way, if it bursts into flames, it shouldn't burn anything else. (Full disclosure: I had a 10 yr old Midway/Frankford tumbler that I had re-wired about 5 times to keep it agoing; bursting into flames was not out of the question).

July 15, 2011, 01:16 PM
I've forgot about mine and left it tumbling the brass for 3 or 4 days once (it's out in the shed so if I don't head out that way I won't necessarily hear it running).

Brass still shot fine. Matter of fact it had a darn near radioactive looking brightness about it. Next time out I have unquestionably the most pretty cartridges on the line :D.

Usually though, I let it run for a few hours. I don't much care about the appearance much anymore - it just needs to run enough to clean it up so that I know it'll cycle smoothly.

July 15, 2011, 01:28 PM
I run for a few hours to clean the brass. Anything more than that is just for show. It doesn't make the brass load or shoot any better after that.
I bought a neat countdown timer from that is great. you can set hours or minutes or both and walk away and went its done it shuts the tumbler off.
I also bought their led light that mounts in the hole of the tool head on my 650 press. it really works well. They have some neat stuff.

July 15, 2011, 11:19 PM
I have some kind of red Lyman tumbling solution that is leaving a little residue in the cases.

I hated that red crap all over everything. :mad: I eventually got it all cleaned up and threw it in the trash.

I got a sack of the corn cob from drillspot and some really fine walnut from Buffalo Arms and they work great....No more red all over everything I touch....:D....

I usually turn a load on at bedtime and turn it off the next morning. Works for me.



July 15, 2011, 11:26 PM
I, too, am red handed and can't wait until it's finally gone. Too cheap to toss it though.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

July 15, 2011, 11:28 PM
If you reduce the cases to brass dust, you know they've gone too long.

I've put 6-9 hrs of tumbling into some cases that really needed it.

July 16, 2011, 09:30 AM
Mine is a mix of corncob and lizard litter (walnut) with a little liquid car polish well blended in now and then. Cut up used dryer sheets contain the dust and are free.

Since day one I have used a cheapo lamp timer from Harbor Freight to regulate how long the tumbler operates. Set it and forget it.

July 16, 2011, 05:19 PM
yes, I don't think I will be buying Lyman tumbler media again, and I'm going to let the guys at the LGS know about my experience with it. Perhaps they will stop carrying it when the rest of it goes.

Hondo 60
July 16, 2011, 05:33 PM
I've run my tumbler overnight on several occasions.
There's no downside as far as the brass is concerned.
They come out looking like new on the outside.

+1 on the drillspot "blasting media" (it's corn cob) and works perfectly.
Plus there's no shipping charge on it.

July 16, 2011, 06:25 PM
Yes you can run a thumbler too long.

I have a Thumler's Tumbler made for the rock polishing types.

I put in cases and that red rouge walnut media you get from Lyman.

I let tumble maybe a week.

Red rouge was pounded into the surface of the cases. I forget how I got the stuff off the surface of the cases, either hand polishing or water and soap. The stuff on the inside was removed best as I could with bristle brushes.

July 16, 2011, 06:58 PM
FWIW - these little timers work pretty dang good for tumblers. I only use one pin, to turn it off. Turn the dial to about 8 hours before the pin, turn it on and go to work, or go to bed, whichever. No reason IMO to set the timer to clock time, unless you want to turn the tumbler ON at a certain time.

July 16, 2011, 08:39 PM
If you can get your hands on some actual gypsom, you'll never have to bother with anything else for your brass tumbling needs again. I managed to get my hands on some years ago in White Sands New Mexico and haven't had to replace it yet.

July 16, 2011, 08:48 PM
I run mine maybe 3 hours tops, works fine, but the Midway media is running out, getting gray.

July 16, 2011, 09:45 PM
Generally speaking, I tumble 4-6 hours.

I had some really crusty looking 30-06 brass a few years back. I set it to tumble for the nine hours I was at work, came home and looked at it. Still crusty. Repeat next day. Several times. Finally got it looking good. Some of it took ~ 45 hours (yeah, I can be kinda stubborn).

Bottom line--I do not think you can over-tumble brass. Your electricity bill (and your patience) is the limiting factor.

Several people I know have used that red tumbling media and every one has replaced it before it got dirty. It's a gimmick.

July 16, 2011, 10:04 PM tumbling to long, the zinc on the surface gets depleted. Brass is 70% copper & 30% zinc. The crystal structures are different. Zing being Hexagonal is removed faster than copper. Copper is also 2 times harder than zinc. Zinc normal color is a bluish pale gray. Zinc being softer act as a lube for the copper. :D Maybe i can sell this the 2nd time around. :uhoh:

July 17, 2011, 04:04 PM
I wanted to vibrate some cases, and I happened to have a 5lb bag of rice laying around that I ended up using. I did some .357, .38 and 9mm cases. They came out pretty good, but not the greatest looking things

July 18, 2011, 08:54 PM
oh man, I got lots of rice, too bad that didn't work out so well for you or I'd be all over that.

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