View Full Version : Rotary abrasive tumbler?

01-23-2012, 12:49 AM
I want to build a round vertical abrasive tumbler for cleaning small parts. I have a wire feeder from my plasma spray equipment that has a powerful variable speed motor that goes quite slow to fairly fast. I can easily convert the round reel to make it enclosed. It's about 12"-16" wide about 24"-30" in dia. & has tubes across about every 8" that would act like agitators. What media should I use. Years ago in high school I worked in a shop rebuilding starters,etc & we had a vibrator that used 1-2" stone like media along with a chemical. I want to do this dry & wondered if pea gravel would work or if I need something sharper, mainly for getting rust & paint off small parts, bolts,etc. I don't want to change it from a wire feeder so I thought about rolling some heavy sheet metal around it & make the door between the tubes(aprox an 8"x14" door).Thanks for any ideas! Eric

01-23-2012, 01:00 AM
I'm confused a round vertical will not tumble or agitate the stuff in side, did you mean a horizontal axle like a ferris wheel, yes it will work but I would line the in side with a rubber or urethane coating.

01-23-2012, 02:15 AM
Don't use gravel, Buy some real abrasives, theres dozens of diffrent types depending on exactly what you want, and they cost on the order of $10~50 for a 50lb *drum*, Hardly worth trying to save money on.

Also, Id wonder if this motor is part of your plasma spray equipment, is it something you would rather.. Not see burnt out?

You'd probley be better off with some variable voltage power supply and a power window motor, or somesuch, if you care at all about the plasma sprayer.

01-23-2012, 06:14 AM
Yes horiz shaft & I don't think I'll hurt this I just want to be able tp put it back to it original state as a wire feeder. maybe just make a new drum from a small plastic drum.
But what media do you suggest? I was thinking about the machine we used with the stones when I thought of the gravel. It worked great.

01-23-2012, 06:29 AM
This is what I use in my vibratory tumbler. Don't know about it beating around in a rotary. There are, however, zillions of shapes and grits (from other vendors). Some type of ceramic will surly do what you want.


01-23-2012, 08:31 AM
Mark,Thank you,I think that will work.

J Tiers
01-23-2012, 08:32 AM
That HF stuff looks OK until you realize that the shapes are about 14mm wide (something over half an inch)!

That's HUGE, and would not even reach areas on the parts I wanted to clean. Plus, those big things would beat the parts full of dents and nicks.

Their only alternative stuff is walnut shells, which I have seen do exactly nothing for rust etc, even with some abrasive powder added.

There is a company somewhere near my work that sells better stuff, but I just ended up going out to the shed and scooping some coarse sand out of a bin. Worked just fine for what I wanted done, and I have no reason whatever to change from that right now.

01-23-2012, 09:06 AM
I use crushed walnut shells + odds and ends small cutoffs of steel that I have lying around to remove paint and rust. Probably about 6:1 or 8:1 in terms of ratio of volume. The key to getting it to cut at all is the right volume of water mixed with the media. I had to experiment to get a feel for the consistency. From what I've read elsewhere what you want is to basically make it more fluid so you get more contact. Works fairly well.

01-23-2012, 09:31 AM
That shape and size does a fantastic job in my 100 lb. vibratory tumbler. I clean the parts of huge air circuit breakers at work with it. It does NOT dent or distort, and it rarely even hurts the silver plating (unless it was loose to begin with). But once again remember I said VIBRATORY tumbler.

I also mentioned that the HF size might be a bit much for a rotary machine. However, depending on speeds and drum size, I highly doubt that it would damage the parts being cleaned, unless they might be tin foil thin. A lazy roll would probably be fine for most tasks.

There are many sites out there that sell, and explain, many shapes, sizes and grits of ceramic media, as well as steel shot and other material. A search or two will inevitably find the perfect material.


01-23-2012, 11:10 AM
The HF stones are like I remember in the starter shop I worked at in high school. It was a rectangle tank wthat vibrated with solvent. Put the part in watch it dissapear after coming up & going down a few cycles it was clean, degreased & rest free. Maybe a vibrator type would work better. An old paint shaker might be a starting point there. I'll do some more research. Thanks guys!