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I had thought that this unit was only a couple of years old. Turns out from looking at Midway's archives that I got it in January 2009...I guess time does fly when you're having fun.

Today I had a load of about 200 cases of .45 ACP and a few .44 Magnum mixed in and after running for about 2 hours I noticed a change of pitch in the vibrations (it runs in the basement...that's a room under the house for you Texans :D ).

I unplugged it to run out for lunch as I hate to leave appliances running when I'm away and when I came back started it up again to finish them while I loaded some rounds. The thing started bogging down, almost like someone grabbing a flywheel on an electric motor, then would rev back to normal.

This vibratory tumbler is not used that heavily. I would guess maybe 50 times per year tops although I do run it for 6-8 hours at a time cause I like shiny brass. When I extend that out it is a fair amount..maybe 1200 hours.

So...if it's your tumbler do you:

Try to source out a replacement motor at Grainger's? (which would probably run 30.00 +/- on a guess)

Head to Harbor Freight and look for a sale?

Get another Frankford unit?

Switch to a wet unit, either with steel pins or ultrasonic? If this last option, what's the estimated cost of getting up and running/

Lastly, because I am a fix it and keep on rolling kind of guy (some say cheap), if you had one with these symptoms were you able to repair the sin of a gun?
 
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First one rhetorical question. How much tumbling media do you currently have.

I'll help narrow it down to two of your options. Look for a sale at HF and keep working with that setup. Number 2, break out the check book and move up to the stainless media setup.
 

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Model B Thumblers Tumbler, used if you can find one and the stainless media. If you go this route get the stainless media from STM it is the proper size and does not clog up the flash holes like others report having problems with.

The tumbler is expensive but should last a life time. They are made to tumble rocks for a week at a time. Tumbling brass 3-4 hours once a week will be nothing for it.

I clean and tumble my brass as I get a 2# of a specific size brass. This way they have plenty of time to dry before I am ready to reload them.
 
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I always take things apart when they start showing signs of failing. If the magic smoke is still intact then there's a good chance that nothing major is wrong with it. Only after finding major damage will I consider a new purchase. And yes, I'll say it: I am cheap!!!
I built my vibrator using a 1/2hp double shaft motor that was given to me about 17 years ago. All total I think that I have about $10 invested. It works better than and quieter that I had imagined it would. I've tumbled over 1,500 pieces of brass so far.

CaptRon
 

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I always take things apart when they start showing signs of failing. If the magic smoke is still intact then there's a good chance that nothing major is wrong with it. Only after finding major damage will I consider a new purchase. And yes, I'll say it: I am cheap!!!
I built my vibrator using a 1/2hp double shaft motor that was given to me about 17 years ago. All total I think that I have about $10 invested. It works better than and quieter that I had imagined it would. I've tumbled over 1,500 pieces of brass so far.

CaptRon

Here's to being....frugal.

I did see a homemade tumbler using a capacitor start motor and a five gallon poly bucket on the 'net and lost the bookmark. It placed the bucket on a 45 degree angle IIRC and was driven by wheels turning against the bottom outside circumference.
 

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The last I looked Midway had the FA tumbler on sale for about $40.00, but I believe it was out of stock and back orders were OK?
 

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I would like to have a wet tumbler but I cannot bring myself to pay the prices wanted for them yet.
 

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I was on the fence with tumbler or ultrasonic cleaner. Harbor Freight has the ultrasonic cleaner right now for $79.99 - regularly $99.99. The tumblers I have priced are about the same amount as their sale price. The ultrasonic cleaner gave me the option of putting misc. gun parts in it also. What sealed the deal was the wife wanting to get one too as she can put jewelry in it. There are several recipes on line for cleaning solutions using common household products cutting down on the cost of operation by not having to purchase the corncob/walnut shell media. If it was me, and I am cheap too, I would oil the bearings and use it, but also get an ultrasonic cleaner for when it does quit. Just my .02 cents worth.
 

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I was on the fence with tumbler or ultrasonic cleaner. Harbor Freight has the ultrasonic cleaner right now for $79.99 - regularly $99.99. The tumblers I have priced are about the same amount as their sale price. The ultrasonic cleaner gave me the option of putting misc. gun parts in it also. What sealed the deal was the wife wanting to get one too as she can put jewelry in it. There are several recipes on line for cleaning solutions using common household products cutting down on the cost of operation by not having to purchase the corncob/walnut shell media. If it was me, and I am cheap too, I would oil the bearings and use it, but also get an ultrasonic cleaner for when it does quit. Just my .02 cents worth.
Exactly what I was thinking. A wet tumbler with SS pins would be a device solely used for cleaning brass while the ultrasonic cleaner would have other functions. How much brass can you load on a run, what length of time does it take to clean properly and does the unit look like it will be durable? Thanks for weighing in!
 

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Here's to being....frugal.

I did see a homemade tumbler using a capacitor start motor and a five gallon poly bucket on the 'net and lost the bookmark. It placed the bucket on a 45 degree angle IIRC and was driven by wheels turning against the bottom outside circumference.
Take a look on Youtube for DIY Tumbler. There's a lot of different designs that are pretty simple to make. I went with a horizontal wooden box frame where the motor sits in the bottom and the 3 gallon cat food bucket sits on top. The entire unit rides on a set of rubber feet from an old A/C compressor. Inside the bucket is an inverted funnel to promote the rolling movement of the media. Offset weights on the motor shaft are 2" bolts with a couple of old wheel lug nuts. For media I'm using crushed corn cob and Brasso, both from Wally World (thus the $10 that I have in this). While looking through my wife's cupboards I spied a plastic colander that she said I could use, but the holes needed to be a little bigger. I modified it with a torch heated phillips screwdriver. One of these days I'll stop by Dollar Tree and buy her a replacement...she said it was a dollar. Mother's Day is coming up, maybe then!

One of the best features of my DIY tumbler is that it is fairly quiet. Others that I have seen are so loud that you have to wear ear protection. I can listen to the radio while tinkering in the shop for hours. I usually set it for a 3 hour run.

Time to head to the range, test firing 380 reloads this morning.

Fatboy
 

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If the magic smoke is still intact then there's a good chance that nothing major is wrong with it.

CaptRon
I know EXACTLY what you mean. I had worked in electronics retail for many years; and have frequently explained to customers how "smoke" is injected during the manufacturing process and is necessary for proper operation. And how, if you either see or smell the smoke, there's a good chance the "whatever" is hosed. Never heard it called "magic smoke" before, but we're on the same page!! Thanks for a new take on an old (for me...) adage!
 

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I know EXACTLY what you mean. I had worked in electronics retail for many years; and have frequently explained to customers how "smoke" is injected during the manufacturing process and is necessary for proper operation. And how, if you either see or smell the smoke, there's a good chance the "whatever" is hosed. Never heard it called "magic smoke" before, but we're on the same page!! Thanks for a new take on an old (for me...) adage!
Now that's funny. I'm sure that like me you say something like that and people go "What"?

My wife let out the Magic Smoke on a hand mixer the other day, stunk pretty good. I took it apart to show her where the smoke came from, the armature was fried.

Btw, I was in the USCG 72-76.

Fatboy
 

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All things being equal I'd probably get another tumbler. I have a tumbler and an ultrasonic. While I really like the sonic, it doesn't hold as much brass as my tumbler and when it's done I have to wait for the brass to dry before I can start loading, unlike my tumbler where I just run 'em through the sifter and go to town on it.

Nice thing with the sonic though is with the right cleaner (recipes abound on the web) you're looking at 20 minutes in the sonic vs 4-6 hours in the tumbler and the sonic seems to do a much better job on cleaning the inside of the case and the primer pocket than the tumbler does.

Then again, you also need to decap your brass first to really get the most out of a sonic, and with pistol cases I do my decap when I start to load 'em, so for me it's an extra step.

I wish I could afford one of the steel pin rotating drum style, but then you're still looking at decapping first and waiting for the brass to dry before you can do anything.

I think I've talked myself into picking up a second tumbler to have in case my primary craps the bed now.

I do however really (really) like my sonic for cleaning parts. Barrels come out looking better than new, I still haven't tried running a mag though it yet, but, I'm betting it'll help keep my persnickety Mossberg 702 mags from hanging up on me.
 

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I was on the fence with tumbler or ultrasonic cleaner. Harbor Freight has the ultrasonic cleaner right now for $79.99 - regularly $99.99. The tumblers I have priced are about the same amount as their sale price. The ultrasonic cleaner gave me the option of putting misc. gun parts in it also. What sealed the deal was the wife wanting to get one too as she can put jewelry in it. There are several recipes on line for cleaning solutions using common household products cutting down on the cost of operation by not having to purchase the corncob/walnut shell media. If it was me, and I am cheap too, I would oil the bearings and use it, but also get an ultrasonic cleaner for when it does quit. Just my .02 cents worth.
AND you can pick up 20% off coupons in many locations and on the net. Field and Stream and Outdoor Life frequently have them.

I run a HF rock tumbler - they come in 2 sizes. Add lizard bedding ( crushed walnut shells) and I've cleaned thousands for low bucks, low/no maintenance.
 

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I would just add oil and check the wiring. I've had to resolder or rewire the connections and replace the feet on my Frankfurt tumbler several times over the last 20 years, or so. If the motor is gone dead, just get another cheap tumbler, whether Frankfurt Arsenal, or Smart Reloader, or whatever. Save the parts off your old one. I have several bowls for mine that I have loaded with different media.

Talk about cheap:

1. I use walnut lizard bedding from Pet Smart, anyone have a cheaper source for media?
2. If you want to get the carbon out of the inside of your brass, get a large pot (I use an old chili pot) and fill with enough hot water to come to the top of a plastic coffee can and add a few tablespoons of lemon juice. I use those Folgers and Maxwell House plastic coffee cans to store my sorted brass. Drill some drain holes in them and set them in the pot. Shake each can and then let sit for a few minutes. Take out of the water, shake and let the brass drain for a couple of more minutes, then throw in your tumbler (with clean media only, no polish) and run until dry. The tumble will keep the dry spots off your shiny brass that now looks like new, inside and out. A little bit of extra work, but it really gets all that ugly carbon out of the inside and the primer pockets.
3. I buy blemished copper and copper jacketed bullets, throw them in my tumbler and they come out looking just like new.
 
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Exactly what I was thinking. A wet tumbler with SS pins would be a device solely used for cleaning brass while the ultrasonic cleaner would have other functions. How much brass can you load on a run, what length of time does it take to clean properly and does the unit look like it will be durable? Thanks for weighing in!
Harbor Freight has two sizes. I got the larger one for $79.99. I can't give you the specifics yet as I have yet to un-box it or even use it. Here are the spec from their web site:

Product Overview Description
This ultrasonic cleaner makes it easy to clean items like jewelry, eyeglasses, waterproof watches, silverware and more! Just fill the cleaner with an appropriate ultrasonic cleaning powder (available separately), mix with water and then just drop in the items to be cleaned. The ultrasonic cleaner works with or without heat and features a clear-view window so you can see its cleaning power in action!

  • 85 oz. cleaning capacity
  • Five cleaning cycles: 90, 180, 280, 380 and 480 seconds
  • Clean with or without heat
  • Easy-to-read LED digital timer
  • Clear-view window


Specifications
Name2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner
SKU95563
BrandChicago Electric Power Tools
Cleaning applicationsJewelry, Glasses, Waterproof Watches, Tableware, And Metal Parts
Display typeDigital
Cord length4-2/3 ft.
Accessories IncludedParts basket
Cleaning capacity (oz.)85


Customer ReviewsWarrantyProduct Manual
 
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