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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

After being bored and tired of my small brass tumblers I've decided I want to build a larger one, preferably to utilize a 5 gallon bucket. I will be using walnut shells for now so not interested in wet tumbling. But after doing some googling, I cannot really find any how-tos; primarily within the area of pulley/belt sizes needed. I have several1/4 HP electric motors which are more than adequate with the exception of the 1725 RPM. This will obviously change with the sizes of pulleys being used. I was planning on getting a small 1.5" pulley to put onto the motor but cannot determine what size pulley is needed for the rolling bars. So if anyone has built one, or seen plans I would greatly appreciate some input here. Not that it matters but the base will be built from wood until I find time to visit the parents and can fire up the welder.

What I'm looking at making:

 

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I thought about building something like this... reading around the optimal speed for cleaning brass is 30rpm.

Also, depending on what you want to accomplish, just a homemade tumbler? Or one that can do a lot of brass. If its the later than I would go larger than 5gal bucket. You are going to need 1/3-1/2 the volume to allow for flipping of the brass... which means you might get close to 800pcs of 45acp in there at a time when you add media. Not really worth it considering 2 loads in a $40 tumbler accomplishes the same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You would be correct on the latter. I also want to build it just to see if I can. And honestly, 800 45 ACP would be enough for a single batch. It would be quieter and only running a single motor instead of multiple tumblers. plus I could always build it wide enough to accommodate 2 5 gallon buckets as I have plenty of 1/2" metal rod for the rollers.

Sorry if this came across as disagreeing with your post, that is not what I intended.
 

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I could be wrong here but for dry tumbling with walnut media, I'm thinking that a vibratory tumbler will work better. I believe I have read the same thing somewhere from folks who have tried it. Wet tumbling with ss pins is another story of course.
 

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A 5 gallon bucket holds about 4K .45 cases. So I would think you could tumble at least 1500 at a time.

Seems like a fun project to me, especially if you have spare motors.
 

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You would be correct on the latter. I also want to build it just to see if I can. And honestly, 800 45 ACP would be enough for a single batch. It would be quieter and only running a single motor instead of multiple tumblers. plus I could always build it wide enough to accommodate 2 5 gallon buckets as I have plenty of 1/2" metal rod for the rollers.

Sorry if this came across as disagreeing with your post, that is not what I intended.
You didn't come across that way, no sweat.

I would built it for 2 5gal buckets... that way you get more capacity or do multiple calibers at once.

My dream goal was to tumble a 5 gal in 1 or 2 batches... proved to be too much effort for the outcome. I think if my cabelas tumbler craps out I might buy the 18lb harbor freight one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I could be wrong here but for dry tumbling with walnut media, I'm thinking that a vibratory tumbler will work better. I believe I have read the same thing somewhere from folks who have tried it. Wet tumbling with ss pins is another story of course.
I thought it might not work as well, but figured I could try putting some baffles in the bucket to help with mixing it like dryer would. And if that fails then I can just go to wet tumbling as the platform has already been established.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Seems like a fun project to me, especially if you have spare motors.
This is the primary reason for wanting to do this, I have a little bit of free time at nights now and thought it would entertain me for a while and hopefully work. Even if it didn't then I would only be out the 40$ or so for the bearing housings.
 

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Wabash, I built my own tumbler years ago in a little different design from the roller cradle. I used a very slow rpm motor that was attached to the outdoor grill to turn a shish-ka-bob type rod over the coals.

I mounted the drive rod through the bucket,reinforced with 1" thick wooden blocks inside and outside of each end. The drive rod, center mounted in the ends of the bucket was laid in a Vee notch of hardwood,kinda like a rifle rack, lubed with graphite. I did mount some wooden strips inside to baffle the brass and cause it to tumble instead of just sliding around in the bucket.

It worked very well as it was, then, Pop threw out his old lounge chair, and while reclaiming all the leather from it ,I discovered the chair had a vibrator attachment. Once the vibrator device, (simple really) was attached, I had a rotating, vibrating, brass cleaner.

Enjoyable challenge to make, and I used it for years till I got out of reloading due to a residence move and two young boys. The boys took up 100% of my enjoyment time, and account for some of the most fun years I recall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I did not even think about using a rotisserie motor. I wonder if I can find some that turn at a good speed. Every grill I've had turned super slow. Off to Amazon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Seems the only thing I can find are the normal slow ones. Was yours a normal rotisserie motor or something special?
 

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I built one a little smaller than what you have in mind. I used a DC drive motor with rheostat so I can vary the speed. When you use a large container the shafts have to spin faster. I would just put it together and play around with pulleys till you get what you want.
 

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Check out "u-tube" lots of home built "tumblers".

I clean brass about three times a year I run three vibratory cleaners at a time: 9mm, .45acp and .38 Spl. They are connected through a timer and run about 4 hours with clean media with polish. It usually takes about 3-4 days to clean 20-30,000 pieces!

I have considered building one as well, however, I'm really close to buying the small cement mixer from Harbor Freight, $135! Looks to be about "10" gallons though.

John
 

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Friend of mine who tumbles hundreds of thousands of pcs of brass and all is loaded rounds uses portable cement mixers. He uses treated cc. He doesn't use wet media. Works fine...so much for the necessity of a vibratory tumbler for walnut and cc. I use a large Dillon vibratory tumbler and treated cc or a 50/50 mix of cc and walnut. Always use NuFinish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think there might be an older rotary tumbler at my parents that resembles a cement mixer. he volume isn't that great on it from what I recall, but I should be able to modify it to hold a 5 gallon bucket. I'll have to make a run an borrow it.

For those using the cement mixer, does the angle of it make a difference or no since the baffles will cause them to rotate?
 

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I think there might be an older rotary tumbler at my parents that resembles a cement mixer. he volume isn't that great on it from what I recall, but I should be able to modify it to hold a 5 gallon bucket. I'll have to make a run an borrow it.

For those using the cement mixer, does the angle of it make a difference or no since the baffles will cause them to rotate?
Pretty sure the angle is fixed. However, I believe my friend removes the baffles.
 

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A guy I used to know used an old clothes dryer motor and a five gallon bucket to build his. The best I remember, he took a circle of plywood and attached it to a one inch rod and this assembly was mounted to two one inch pillow block bearing assemblies. The motor had a spring to hold tension on the belt. The old dryer belt went around the bucket and it looked pretty good. He said it was all he ever used and his brass looked great. Oh, and the bucket/bearing assembly sat at an angle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
jmorris,

Now that would work great and would be a lot easier to make. Time to see if I can find a similar motor for cheap.
 
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