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Homemade wet tumbler for stainless steel media

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by jmorris, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. jmorris


    Apr 13, 2006
    The results using stainless steel media always impressed me; however, being accustom to the large batches my big Dillon tumbler can turn out the idea of only being able to 2 lbs of brass (only 230 rounds of 9mm) at a time just wouldn’t be worth it.

    The Thumler’s tumbler despite costing almost $200 is only good for 15 lbs . Once you add 8 lbs (a gallon) of water and 5 lbs of SS media that only leaves 2 lbs of brass. You can also get a 40 lb tumbler as well but at almost $700...well if I wanted to burn money I would just buy new brass.

    I started out ebaying parts, a 1/3hp 40 rpm gear motor ran $30, 1” pillow block bearings (1500lb load rating) for $8 and a Lovejoy coupling for another $10. I then made a frame out of ¾” to mount the motor and bearing box. Cut a disk out of 3/8” steel and mounted a 100 lb (12.2 gallon) bucket used to hold chlorine onto the disk using 10-32 bolts. I slid another bucket into the first one and cut slots into the outer bucket so the inner bucket would inner lock with it. I then cut 4 ribs 1 5/8” tall out of ½” thick plastic and bolted them in to the inner bucket, using 10-32 counter sink bolts, every 90 degrees to agitate the brass and media.

    The media is pretty expensive at $25 for five pounds so I only bought 10 pounds for initial testing, so if it didn’t work I wouldn’t be out of too much money. So I started out with only a gallon Ziploc bag of .223 and a few hand full’s of 458socom for the trial run.

    The mix was 2 gallons of water, 2 table spoons of Dawn dish washing soap, ½ teaspoon of Lemishine detergent. Even at over twice the capacity of the Thumler’s B model there is still a lot of room for more.

    I ran the mix for 1 hour and separated the media/brass using my Dillon separator, rinsed the brass with clean water and dumped it onto a screen I built for drying dip lubed bullets. It was kind of cool today so I set a heated fan up to help dry them out. In about 15 min they were all dry.

    It’s not much to look at but once I get a few more bags of media I figure it will tumble around 4500-5000 9mm cases at a time and I will have under $180 invested including the 20 lbs of media.







  2. SJ 40

    SJ 40

    Jan 17, 2011
  3. Hogpauls


    Nov 6, 2009
    Nice job JM! How did those primer pockets come out? Priceless = Good Ole American ingenuity and self satisfaction of a job well done. Not throwing your money a store front that sells all the crap that China can offer.
  4. jhoagland

    jhoagland That's right! Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2007
    south carolina
  5. Shiny. I'll say it again you really need to start your own Jmorris 'Homemade' reloading equipment thread.

    You have a gift mate.


    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  6. jmorris


    Apr 13, 2006
    I have cement mixer down at the farm that's old enough it was made in the good ole US of A; however I figured the stainless media inside the metal drum would beat of all the paint first and rust later to mix in with the brass. I then thought about sticking a bucket inside of it (as I did with the above machine) but figured the duty cycle might not be good enough as it only takes a minute to mix cement vs running for hours at a time. In the end ot was space that put the idea out, I have a lot of "stuff" and floor space is too valuable for a tumbler that takes up that much space.

    The primer pockets and insides are "as new" clean.