Using a Thumler's Tumbler for, you know, rocks


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Shmackey
October 4, 2011, 06:42 PM
Something occurred to me the other day when my daughters were collecting interesting rocks from the farm. I have a rock tumbler! Sure, I never use it to tumble rocks, but I bet it'd be darn good at it.

Needless to say, I tossed all the rock-specific instructions from my Thumler's Model B High Speed as soon as I got it. So, um, how does one go about tumbling rocks? :)

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T Bran
October 4, 2011, 06:53 PM
When I was a smaller version of my current self I had one but it has been a while. If memory serves me correctly there were several different grades of polishing media and we did the rocks in incremental steps. I do remember it taking forever back then so probably a couple days in each progresivly finer compound. If Im not mistaken they were wet tumbled. Must say it made some really purdy rocks.
T

Woody3
October 4, 2011, 10:10 PM
Different grits of polishing sand over a period of a few weeks. It takes forever.


Keep your head low and your powder dry.

bigedp51
October 4, 2011, 10:21 PM
Before they invented rocks did you happen to use the rock tumbler for cleaning cartridge cases with stainless steel media?

http://www.accurateshooter.com/technical-articles/reloading/brass-cleaning-with-stainless-media/

I'm crying now because it was my first case cleaner and didn't work well with wallnut media so I gave it to my brother-in-law 5 years ago so his kids could tumble rocks.......sob........hic. :banghead:

rcmodel
October 5, 2011, 11:35 AM
Thumlers is still in business and sells all kinds of tumblers including the Model B, as well as all kinds of rock polishing media.

http://www.thumlerstumbler.com/accessories.html

A call would probably get you a set of instructions for your model tumbler.

Otherwise, here is probably more then you need to know about rock polishing.
http://www.rocks4u.com/tumblers.htm

rc

Lazerbeans
October 5, 2011, 07:12 PM
I recently brought a rock tumbler from the local Harbor Freight for around $40. I threw about 20 de-primed .30-06 shells into it with a cup of rice, left it for the night and it did a pretty decent job. The insides weren’t very shiny, but they did seem to be mostly free of “soot”. Cheap way of getting your brass clean. I also threw the rock tumbling instructions directly away. Anyone use anything different and get good results? Maybe something that will clean well inside and out.

737Driver
October 5, 2011, 08:18 PM
Crushed walnut shells with some flitz tumbling media polish works excellent for brass in my rotary tumbler.

Alan Robertson
October 6, 2011, 12:38 PM
Howdy, Shmackey.
You mentioned that you have the high- speed Model B, like mine.
They sell the low-speed model for rock-polishing and the high- speed for metal, like brass.
From what I've read, the high-speed models are too tough on the rocks and you might just end up with a tub of gravel... never know until you try.

Peter M. Eick
October 6, 2011, 08:24 PM
As a geologist all I can say is why harm a perfectly defenseless rock by polishing it.

Sacrilege!

Canuck-IL
October 6, 2011, 08:45 PM
I only pitched the Thumler Model B rock instructions about 6 months ago ... I do remember being impressed with the duty cycle of the tumbler. IIRC, a rock batch schedule was 24*7 for 21 days with a different grit at 7 and 14.

/Bryan

ETA: Found instructions from a grit vendor...
1. Fill barrel 1/2 to 5/8 full of stones. Pour in package marked COARSE (60-90). Add water even with top stones. Run tumbler with this mixture for approximately 7 days, 24 hours a day, or until smooth. WASH STONES AND BARREL WELL. (Kitchen colander is ideal for washing stones, but do not wash into sink drains.)

2. Place stones back into barrel. Pour in package marked FINE (120-220). Add water even with top of stones. Run tumbler with this mixture for approximately 7 days, 24 hours a day, or until rocks are shiny when wet. WASH STONES AND BARREL WELL.

3. Place stones back into barrel. Pour in package marked PRE-POLISH (500F). Add water even with top of stones. Run the tumbler with this mixture approximately 3 days, 24 hours a day, or until rocks show a luster when dry. WASH STONE AND BARREL WELL.

4. Place stones back into barrel. Pour in package marked POLISH. Add water even with top of stones. Run tumbler with this mixture approximately 7 days, 24 hours a day, or until rocks show a luster when dry. WASH STONES AND BARREL WELL.

5. Place stones back into barrel. Add enough powdered detergent to make a stiff suds. Add water even with top of stones. You may also add sawdust or some similar material to cushion the rocks during this clean-up stage. Run tumbler with this mixture overnight. WASH STONES AND BARREL WELL. SPREAD OUT ROCKS ON DRY SURFACE AND INSPECT YOUR FINISHED GEMSTONES.

Geez! That's 25 days ... the average kid will have a new hobby by the time the first batch emerges!

JohnM
October 6, 2011, 08:55 PM
My Dad used to polish rocks. Seems like for hard stuff like agate it would take a month, maybe it was more. Several changes of the grinding media.
I still have a couple of his old drums, never tried them, they turn really slow.
I use a standard sort of vibratory rig, don't even know who made it any more, I bought it around 30 years ago.

Shmackey
October 6, 2011, 09:35 PM
As a geologist all I can say is why harm a perfectly defenseless rock by polishing it.

Sacrilege!

Only because I have two young daughters who would think it's magic. :)

Peter M. Eick
October 7, 2011, 09:14 AM
Teach them to love the rocks in their natural state.

:)

FROGO207
October 8, 2011, 06:49 AM
Personally I like to collect the small flat rocks for skipping on the water. I don't care if they drown after I am done with them either.:D

Lazerbeans
October 8, 2011, 05:37 PM
Have you no heart?:D

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