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

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Shmackey, Oct 4, 2011.

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  1. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    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? :)
     
  2. T Bran

    T Bran Member

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    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
     
  3. Woody3

    Woody3 Member

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    Different grits of polishing sand over a period of a few weeks. It takes forever.


    Keep your head low and your powder dry.
     
  4. bigedp51

    bigedp51 member

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  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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  6. Lazerbeans

    Lazerbeans Member

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    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.
     
  7. 737Driver

    737Driver Member

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    Crushed walnut shells with some flitz tumbling media polish works excellent for brass in my rotary tumbler.
     
  8. Alan Robertson

    Alan Robertson Member

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    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.
     
  9. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    As a geologist all I can say is why harm a perfectly defenseless rock by polishing it.

    Sacrilege!
     
  10. Canuck-IL

    Canuck-IL Member

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    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!
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  11. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    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.
     
  12. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    Teach them to love the rocks in their natural state.

    :)
     
  14. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    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
     
  15. Lazerbeans

    Lazerbeans Member

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    Have you no heart?:D
     
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