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Tumbler Help!


MRB

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Hi All,

  I’m in desperate help to get a tumbler going as soon as possible. I am trying to keep up with fire poker orders, but need a much more efficient way at cleaning them before applying a clear coat. Currently, I soak them overnight in vinegar, then hit them on the wire wheel. But I hate the wire wheel, crouched over it for hours each night, it’s dangerous, and too slow. I picked up a treadmill for free, and tried making a simple tumbler out of that with an old 15 gallon drum. The treadmill rolls the drum fine empty, but once I add sand or gravel to the barrel as media, the belt just slips. I’ll add a picture to show what I’m talking about later on. But basically, all I did was use the current treadmill, and add some boards to the sides to prevent the barrel from rolling down the belt. I saw a video online of something similiar, which seemed to work a lot better then mine! Any recommendations for a quick fix that would make it work? If not, any ideas for a more efficient way to clean all the scale off the pokers? I might get a sandblasted if that’s quicker then the wire wheel. Thanks!

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Baffles will keep things stirred up and tumbling.  (pun intended)

You may want to build a frame with 4 casters and a v belt from the motor to around the barrel as a drive mechanism.

Add a little boiled linseed oil to the sand or tumble media to apply a finish as it tumbles.

 

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Friction from your guides is overcoming traction to the belt. Find casters or rollers for the guides and glue a wrap of old inner tube around the chines on the barrel to increase traction. You can use a wipe of silicone calk on the chines too but it'll wear requiring regular touch ups. Chines are the raised ribs around the barrel.

The correct term is "Lifting lug," not baffle for the little paddles in a tumbler that stirs the media and parts. They don't need to be big. THREE, 1 x 1" angle iron screwed or riveted the length of the barrel will work well enough. Why three lifting lugs? 3 will dump any material caught on them on a section of barrel without a lug and helps prevent tangles or jams. 

If it won't turn you've overloaded it. 

A better set up than what you have is a simple frame with casters the barrel/drum can roll on, one at each end will keep it in place. Mount your motor on a hinge board under it and loop a belt over the drum. You do NOT want it turning faster than maybe 30 RPM. Slow and light loads work best in dry tumblers.

A barrel / drum tumbler drum WILL WEAR THROUGH with dismaying speed, get used to replacing the barrel. I lucked into a gallon of Rhino liner type goop at a yard sale and it's lasted amazingly well. Too bad I don't make enough to need a tumbler very often.

Make sure your exhaust fan is on when you open it, tumbling dry makes a LOT of very fine dust, some so fine it won't settle. 

Yeah, Dad was a rock hound, there were always tumblers going in the basement or garage. I've seen the inside of bunches.

Frosty the Lucky

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Thanks for the replies! As far as adding linseed oil to finish... how would that work? I feel as if the point of tumbling to strip and clean the metal would result in being counter active when trying to add a coating to finish it. If that works, it sure would save a ton of time!

And frosty, for the lifting lugs, do they span the entire width of the barrel? And I like your idea with the hinged motor frame, but unfortunately at this time I don’t have the time to make one. I’m going to pick up some casters tomorrow to modify this setup, and hopefully it will get me through the holiday orders. Then I’ll disassemble the treadmill, and could probably reuse the motor for the framed design you mentioned.

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1 hour ago, MRB said:

lifting lugs, do they span the entire width of the barrel?

I'm not clear what you mean by width here. Stand the barrel on end and the lift lugs are vertical. Here that is longitudinal or lengthwise.  This side of the Atlantic the "width" of a cylinder refers to it's diameter unless otherwise specified. 

If you'll put your general location in the header you'll have a chance of hooking up with members living within visiting distance. A lot of information is location specific. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Got er running today! The casters did the trick. I gotta spin it by hand first to get it started, but then the momentum rolls it on its own. Added three pieces of angle like you said running down the barrel, and got a small load in now to see how the gravel/sand cleans the pieces. Only complaint is that it’s very loud, like I assumed it would be! Does the bed liner in yours make it quiet? I plan on only running this during the day, mon-fri, so it shouldn’t be a huge issue with the neighbors. But having a little bit of noise reduction would be nice! Thanks

 

5A244AF6-A16F-4D6B-82D8-2C93ED6A8C3D.jpeg

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Well, after tumbling for about 2 hours, my pokers came out fairly clean. It seems that the portions that were hammered, like the poker tip, had no scale left on them, but the shafts that remained untouched still had mill scale on them. I’ll have to figure a better media alternative to sand and pea gravel. The pea gravel I think is too smooth and rounded to be aggressive, and the sand gives a dull look. I’m going to cut up some scrap 3/8 bar I got into small chunks, and maybe that will be more aggressive in scale removal. Any other recommendations?

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Yes, burn the mill scale off the work, it's not just scale there's a protective coating though I don't know what, oil or the like maybe.

Less sand, sharper gravel and steel slugs, old sheet metal screws work a treat for aggressive media. Crusher run granite makes a good aggressive media. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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The mill scale is actually rolled into the steel when it is being made.  So, it adheres more tightly than just plain old forge scale.  If you can ever find a buy on cold rolled steel it does not have that problem since it is mill scale free.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

PS MRB, where are you located?  If we know we may be able to offer suggestions about things like tumbler media available to you locally.

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Thanks for the replies. I’m located in NJ. That makes sense about burning the scale off, and I assume that the hammering helps shock some of it too. I’ve also seen guys use a torch to pop some of the scale off too. Next time I go to the yard I’m going to ask about cold roll instead of the hot rolled stuff, will probably save me a ton of time even if it costs slightly more. 

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Awesome news! I threw in a bunch of nails and scrap metal, and tumbled a dozen pokers and half a dozen matching hooks today. They were in for about an hour and a half, and came out looking really nice! They weren’t the scaleless shiny look I normally get with the wire wheel, but it’s a real clean stonewashed looking finish which I really dig. I wiped each one down with a rag soaked in linseed oil, and I’m gonna stick with this method over the sandblaster. I put the tumbler in the shed, and that helped dampen some noise. I’m also gonna pickup some bedliner at harbor freight, and some felt or carpet to wrap the drum with. Really can’t be happier, this is gonna save a lot of time, and for the price four casters, well worth the investment!

E7CFAA26-E4C6-4A7F-B8E1-11A72013ABD4.jpeg

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DB46AB84-90EF-43BF-A3D5-A7B1CAB1A0DA.jpeg

And what’s the deal with throwing in linseed oil while the parts are tumbling? Will this actually work, or will all the dust and scraping parts interfere with a good finish? And what would be the best way to do this? Soak a rag and throw it in, or dump some oil directly in?

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That is a pretty cool looking finish!

I have limited tumbler experience... I have used a rotary steel shot blaster in a foundry i worked at. Aluminum came out that thing looking super smooth...

But- I'd worry about adding oil or liquid of any type to your tumbler for one reason... clumping dust or debris. Unless you sealed it liquid tight- and added enough oil to work a slurry like a rock tumbler, I'd think that the oil/crud would eventually clump in areas and then really throw it off balance as it spun and bad enough- make it hop.?

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I wouldn't try putting a finishing oil in the tumbler it'll make a sticky goo that will harden over time. I think you have it, tumble then oil. I'd adjust tumble times till you get the finish you like best. Maybe make a story board with samples of different tumble times. Everybody has their own taste it'd be nice to be able to offer different finishes. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks for all the replies everyone! Wrapped the tumbler in an old yoga mat today, reducing noise and adding more traction! I will now not be up until 10 cleaning and packaging pokers! Or maybe I will be, but will be getting more done!

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