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Homemade Tumbler: A Report....Not Necessarily A Recommendation

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by otisrush, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    When I made the switch to wet tumbling about 3 years ago I went the Harbor Freight route. It has, and continues, to work just fine. The small capacity kind of bugs me. But I have time on my hands and it has been able to keep up with my shooting volumes.

    That being said, I have been interested in getting something a little more capable. But I didn't want to spend the money on either a Thumler's or a Frankford (nor wait for when it goes on sale). I'm not sure how, but I stumbled onto various YouTube videos where people show homemade contraptions they've made. Lots of "Home Depot Bucket", casters to enable the turning, in one case an old drill being the drive mechanism, etc. kinds of solutions.

    I made the device shown below - mostly because I had the time to put into it and I simply just wanted to see if I could do it. I would say it's working "OK" - certainly well enough. My capacity has easily doubled - probably tripled. Plus, it's rotating fast enough where I can get a pretty good cleaning in roughly 2/3 the time it takes me in the Harbor Freight.

    It probably cost me $50-60 in parts. Each metal rod is resting on ball bearings I found at Ace Hardware. The motor was the steal - $5 on Facebook Marketplace. I glued in a static end cap into one end of the PVC pipe and use one of those removable pressure test plugs on the other end. I cut out small arcs of pipe (probably 1" wide" and glued them inside the pipe to provide some agitation as the pipe rotates. The v-belt pulley and belt could be had cheaper off Amazon I'm sure. I bought the ones I'm using at Ace.

    So while I can't say I'd *recommend* making this unless you find the process itself fun, it is a pretty simple way to get more capacity without much cost. And if you're mechanically inclined (which I am not....this thing doesn't run all that smoothly) there are some pretty cool solutions on YouTube. I'm probably going to get some angle iron and mount the bearings in that rather than have wood end pieces.

    OR

    2019-04-28 12_47_52-Window.jpg
     
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  2. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    I think ya done fine. At least you made a stab at it, and it works. I bet you even learned a thing or two.

    Many times, when I make something, after it's made I see modifications that need to be done. Sometimes I modify the thing before even putting it to use.

    If it doesn't work the way you want, then change it.

    Good job !
     
  3. Allen One1

    Allen One1 Member

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    Nashville, TN
    I started out with a 3 gallon water bottle, the exchangeable ones from Lowes. It worked pretty good but it will wear out fairly fast. But the concept worked so I went ahead and purchased an actual tumbler drum to replace the water bottle. Nice job putting a group of parts together into a workable unit.
     
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  4. MihiT

    MihiT Member

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    Mar 12, 2019
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    I've done smething pretty similar and it serves dual purpose as my ball mill for BP.
    For tumbling I heated and squashed the PVC to make a hex, like the FA drums, I thought afterwards of doing something like you with paddles but the end cap is glued on now so that could be Mk II.
    It's also run directly off the motor pulley, which I sized to give a nudge under 100rpm. The motor is above and the weight of the drum provides the tension on the vee belt.

    Rigidity, level/plumb and alignment will be your enemies-of-smoothness.
     
  5. enine

    enine Member

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    Location:
    Ohio
    I made a small one using parts from an inkjet printer 20190419_211752.jpg
     
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  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Nice, home made stuff is so cool.

    I love repurposed stuff, very nice.
     
  7. salpal48

    salpal48 Member

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    If you go with a larger drum. You are going to have to reduce your motor pulley in size to change the rotation speed to compenste for the larger drum. from the picture it appears to be almost the same size. you could also enlarge the Shaft pulley if you want to and move it to the rear shaft
     
  8. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    If it can be built, I can over-build it!

    [​IMG]

    I'm on my MKIII container. I still don't like it, yet...:)

    Nice build, Otis. If it works for you, it's perfect!
     
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  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Over built is always good.
     
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  10. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Nice and compact, portable unit!:):D
    I suggest quick connect plumbing fixtures to add and drain water.:)
     
  11. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Member

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    I like the four step pulley for different tumbling speeds.
     
  12. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    It is the ten and twelve inch reducers and caps that keep me from trying larger diameter drums.

    $$:what:$$!

    I have stainless angle bolted inside the canister with the heads counter sink and the ends glued over for a watertight fit.

    I feel the agitation paddles are a bit aggressive. They make the brass fall from the top very well. Almost too well.

    I would like to make a twelve inch canister that runs just fast enough to, uh, what's the word? Not roll on the bottom, but the whole bulk of it slosh- rolling down the "hill" made in the canister. I'm sure there is a materials handling word for the motion besides "mixing".:D

    I really like the "heated in facet" idea. The eight inch canister was just small enough to have a few cases roll on the bottom, receiving unsightly rings. I'm sure the extra five pounds of pins helped, but made canister MKiii anyway...:)

    I really like @enine 's micro tumbler. Pistol sized! Perfect for a day of Thirty Twos.

    Surely there must be more hand made units out there to see...
    Don't be shy!:thumbup:
     
  13. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Perhaps smaller paddles and staggered or angled??
     
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  14. otisrush

    otisrush Member

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    Rev 1 of my contraption included internal paddles/agitators that were oriented as I'm holding it in the picture below. These are the "arcs" I referenced in my original post. I glued them in on edge.

    I, like @Demi-human , felt the agitation was a bit aggressive. (Actually, I was concerned it was putting too much strain on the motor. With each revolution the rotation would slow and the motor seemed to strain a bit. I figured too much material was being held up.)

    So for Rev 2 I ripped out those paddles and just glued them in as you can see in the same picture. My hope was to provide some-but-not-too-much resistance in order to get some agitation. This modification has worked well for my setup.

    20190429_091232.png
     
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  15. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I built this back in the late 80's early 90's, I don't remember any more. It is still going strong and tumbles brass once a week. The can is a 1 gallon bailess paint can that can be bought anywhere.
    I have the speed pullied to 100 fps on the outside of the can.
    It is about twice as fast as the Hornady vibrating tumbler I have.
    There are no agitators in side of it. I use dry media in it.
    tumbler.jpg
    This one is over built and probably why it runs as good today as it did 30 years ago when I built it.
     
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