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Thumler's tumbler questions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by solman, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. solman

    solman Well-Known Member

    I was thinking of getting one of these as I woud like to clean the primer pockets as well as the rest of the brass. Also I have heard with the stainless media you need not bother with the removing the burr after trimming as the stainless pins help in this as well. Can anyone who has one of these tumblers confirm this? Also how many .223 cases will fit in one batch? I guess you need just fresh water to use wet. Is tap water ok or is distilled water needed?
    Thanks for the advice.
  2. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I deburr my trimmed cases. I doubt the pins will remove the the burrs but I have not bothered to try.

    The tumber is rated for 15 pounds in the drum. There is 5 pounds of pins, 8 pounds of water (1 gallon) and that leaves 2 pounds for cases.

    Tap water works fine. I suppose that if your water is super hard, it may leave spots when drying. Then demineralized water, distilled water, or softened water might be desireable.
  3. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Well-Known Member

    I wet tumble my brass before trimming so I can't tell you if it will help in deburring.
    I use the Dillon rapid trim 1200 which leaves a minimal burr which I don't bother removing since I use boat tail 55gr bullets for .223 used in my AR15.

    If I had a bolt action .223 for precision work I'd probably deburr.

    As far as how much brass you can place in the tumbler at once I don't follow the recommended 15lb max. I fill the tumbler till I reach the maximum amperage of the motor which brings me somewhere over 6lbs of brass.
    I've been doing this for over a year with no negative results.
    The brass still comes out of the tumbler looking like new.

    The 1/4 tsp of Lemishine powder helps in preventing spotting so tap water can be used with excellent results.

    My vibratory tumbler has been relegated to giving a quick 15min. polish to loaded rounds.
    I'll never go back to walnut media for cleaning since SS pins and wet tumbling make no dust whatsoever.
  4. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Well-Known Member

    As far as 223 brass about 150 cases weigh 2 pounds.

    I just weigh out 2 pounds on my utility scale and into the tumbler they go.
  5. Well I look at it this way. I went ahead and got the Thumler's Tumbler and stainless steel pins for cleaning because it seemed like the best way. When I was getting a trimmer for .223 I went ahead and got the RCBS 3 way cutter so it would deburr as it trims for the same reason. Buy once, cry once.
  6. solman

    solman Well-Known Member

    OK thanks for the info. I think I will take the plunge on the thumler's since it gets rave reviews. It cleans well without all the dust and gets the primer pocket clean which is mostly what I was looking for. If it helps with debur so much the better, if not it's no big deal.
  7. KevinR

    KevinR Well-Known Member

    I use a Thumler's. I like it but, I recommend you get a couple of spare belts. I brake about one per year. Also the motor gets very hot during use. Thumler tells me this is normal. I only run it outside of the house and never near my powder.
  8. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    I have wet tumbled after trimming -- the pins do remove the burrs very well, on both brass and steel cases.
  9. bob4

    bob4 Well-Known Member

    This is pretty neat. Even as a new loader I've always hated the inside of the brass dirty. C'mon Santa!
  10. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    If you live in suburbia, there are several Thumblers tumblers on your street that have not been used in decades. They were purchased for polishing rocks. These can be had very easily [free if you are slick talker].

    Thumblers tumblers are made by true square metal products in Auburn WA.
    There is more info about the different Model B TT140's at Buffalo Arms [where I got mine]:

    You can see there are 20 rpm drum speed model Bs and 40 rpm drum speed models.
    I think you want the 40 rpm, and the ones in basements and garages in your neighborhood I am guessing are 20 rpm.

    I have been using mine for Moly coating bullets.
    I bought the Lyman Kit with vibrator, ceramic media, separator, and moly powder.
    I still use the moly powder.
    I now clean bullets, dry them, and put them in a plastic container, typically 8 ounce size, put some duck tape around the lid, and rotate for an hour in the Thumber.

    For cleaning 150 pieces of brass, 5 pounds of stainless steel media [ round rods .041" dia, .255" long] with an ounce of Ivory dish washing liquid and a tablespoon of Lemishine, with hot water to the top.

    Here is a video of me cleaning brass. It is 12 minutes long and the average view is 3 minutes. It is a VERY boring video. But for the Thumbers Tumber, skip 5 minutes in:

    If you tumble for 24 hours, the brass will look just like new, and need case mouth chamfering, just like new.
    It becomes obvious that brass manufacturers are tumbling the brass with some hard media [not corn or Walnut].
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  11. Krogen

    Krogen Well-Known Member

    I bought a Thumler's tumbler and stainless pins from Midway. I dumped about 400 deprimed 5.56 cases into it, two good squirts of Dawn and a .45 case full of lemishine, filled with tap water and ran it for 4 hrs. Found this recipe on the net and thought it would be a good starting point. Man was I surprised! The cases looked like new. They were spotless inside and out. The primer pockets were cleaner than I can get them manually with conventional tools. Sure was a lot of crud in and on the cases. The black liquid "slurry" left in the tumbler showed just how much came loose.

    One batch and I was sold.
  12. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    Be a little careful on the Lemishine. If you use too much and/or don't get it all off the brass, it will discolor the brass.
  13. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    The color comes off with an additional tumbling or a simple swipe with steel wool.
  14. GW Staar

    GW Staar Well-Known Member

    I recently had the same exact experience. That recipe came from Dryflash2, a moderator over at AR15.com's reloading forum. What can I say...works as advertised. The only negative is the limitation on batch size.

    jmorris built an impressive giant sized homemade one...jmorris case tumbler....but I have too many other projects in line first to entertain that notion, so the Thumlers will have to do for a while. In fact, A variation on his jmorris's annealer is next....I bought his annealer blade.:)
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
  15. Hamish

    Hamish Well-Known Member

    I just started using a Thumler's Tumbler Model B high speed, and I'm very impressed with how clean it gets the brass. I have a baby in the house and wanted to eliminate or at least drastically reduce the possibility of lead dust, and this does the trick.

    I made myself a little chart that shows how much brass I can put in the tumbler to hit the 15 lbs limit. The directions call for 1 gallon of water, but I started tumbling with 3 liters of water and get equally good results, plus I can fit more brass in and still make weight. I tumble for 3-4 hours with a squirt of Dawn dish detergent and a .45 ACP case full of lemishine. I use cold water as well. It really does look like new brass. I just have to be sure to check the flash holes to remove any pins that get stuck in there - it has happened a few times.

    The chart is below. The first number is with 1 gallon of water, the second number is with 3 liters of water. 1 gallon = 8.345 lbs, 3 liters = 6.613 lbs.

    9mm = 193 / 395
    .38 Special = 168 / 344
    .357 magnum = 157 / 320
    .40 S&W = 163 / 334
    .45 ACP = 129 / 263
    .223 / 5.56 = 121 / 247

    I used some average case weight figures. 9mm = 60gr, .38 special = 69gr, .357 Mag = 74gr, .40 S&W = 71 gr, .45 ACP = 90 gr, .223 = 96gr.
  16. solman

    solman Well-Known Member

    I placed my order for one with Cabela's. They Have it on sale now for $159.00 and also have a $20 coupon code online as well. Yesterday morning they where in stock now I believe they are backordered a week or so. Still the best price I have found for this and with the $20.00 coupon its a steal.
    Is the weight capacity of the tumbler etched in stone or do some of you push that up a little bit with no problems? Seems that with a four hour cycle the more you can fit the more you will get done on a loading day.
  17. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Like anything, there is always a factor of safety built in so if you load the drum with 15.1 pounds, it will not blow up.

    Not exceeding the rated amps on the motor is a good thing though. If you do exceed the rated amps, you will shorten the motor life and run a safety risk of over heating the motor and possibly causing a fire. (hmmm, I will have to drag out my amp meter next time I use the tumbler and see where it is operating).

    The entire wet process takes time versus a dry process. I air dry my cases and that takes several days before they are dry enough to use. I wet tumble my cases occasionally, after several firings. In between, I still use a dry process. For some of the case prep work, I prefer small doses of work that I can do quickly and move on to something else as opposed to a mega-session that I spend hours or all day at. So, small batches work for me.

    I would start using the tumbler as designed and as you learn the idiosyncrasies of wet tumbling, you can adjust your process and push the capabilities of the tumbler to suit your needs.
  18. Krogen

    Krogen Well-Known Member

    Don't over-analyze the weight thing, IMHO. I run approximately 400 5.56 cases in a batch. Brass and stainless pins are both denser than water; they sink, right? After putting in the pins and brass, just fill with water to 1" of the rim you'll be fine. More brass means less water. Just keep the amount of brass down to the point that the tumbling action works.
  19. Hacker15E

    Hacker15E Well-Known Member

    I use an air compressor on the cases as they come out of the wet tumble, which helps the dry time.
  20. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012

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