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Who uses a vibratory tumbler

General engine tech -- Drag Racing to Circle Track

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Ron Miller
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Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by Ron Miller » Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:54 pm

I just bought a HarborFreight 18 lbs bowl vibratory tumbler. I want to use this to clean valves, push rods, connecting rods, etc. What do you guys use for media?

Thanks for looking,
Ron Miller

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by lefty o » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:33 pm

i dont use one for auto parts, but for reloading. for brass i use either corn cob or walnut. for what you want to do, id be looking at a ceramic media.

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by ijames » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:56 pm

We had two Royson model C tumblers in the shop at my last job, and we used their ceramic media and solutions (CNC machine shop, sheet metal, and welding fabrication, not automotive). We were cleaning and deburring stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum sheet metal and small machined parts. Mostly used 1/4" diameter ceramic cylindrical media with ends angle cut at 45 degrees. They cut fast but would ding up the flat surfaces so too aggressive for valves. Go to https://www.royson.com/ and browse, then give them a call and ask for advice - they are helpful and definitely the experts.
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by 427dart » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:33 pm

Try a bag of the crushed walnut shells which you can find at pet stores.

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by Sparksalot » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:00 am

You mentioned pushrods, unless they are old school solid never use your new device on them. Tubular pushrods will get abrasives harbored inside of them which you don't want roaming around inside your engine.

In industry nothing other than solid pieces are put through vibratory abrasive cleaning.

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Dave Koehler
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by Dave Koehler » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:38 am

Walnuts won't touch carbon fused valves.
You will need something tougher like mentioned earlier.
I had a valve tumbler years ago. It kind of worked. A couple of rotating baskets inside a container.
Looked like this> http://www.axeequipment.com/tumblers.html
The baskets rotated through some water and chemical in the bottom of the box.
Media was steel flying saucer shaped inside the baskets with the valves.
I say kind of worked because it had to run at least a couple of hours to get the job done.
Naturally the sales rep claimed it as a 15-30 minute job.

The HF bowl isn't really suitable for cleaning using the dry method.
The green plastic? triangle shapes that HF sells kind of works but they disintegrate fairly quickly and leave a thick green dusty mess on/in the parts.
You will need a baby pump to circulate some liquid through it along with the media
Other than professional media suppliers Eastwood might be worth a look to see what they offer.

I have a couple of the HF bowls for shining up tarnished parts and minor deburring of machined aluminum parts.
Works fine for that. Just be prepared to leave it run for 24 hours or more.

Just for giggles here is an idea. http://www.boyerfour.com/projects/tumbler/tumbler.htm
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by tresi » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:54 am

Put pieces of hose on the valve stems to protect them. Cat litter can be used for an abrasive.

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by Ron Miller » Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:25 pm

Guys,

Thanks for the replies and suggestions. :D
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by In-Tech » Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:32 pm

Hiya folks,
I am looking at one of those 18lb HF vibrators also. I would like to take old crusty carburetors and try to make them like the holley -s series(shiny). I would think that they are all the same pot metal, some are tumbled shiny and some are made gold dichromate? Does anyone have a suggestion on what media I should use? I like the idea of putting a pump and filter on this unit to keep it fairly clean while the media breaks down. Thanks in advance for any help/ideas.
Heat is energy, energy is horsepower...but you gotta control the heat.
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by BBO Omega » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:34 pm

Green Scotchbright Pads, WD40, and a cordless drill work great for cleaning nasty valves. They come out looking brand new in a few minutes of effort, and it’s not aggressive enough to affect the valve seat angle.
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by ijames » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:47 pm

In-Tech wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:32 pm
Hiya folks,
I am looking at one of those 18lb HF vibrators also. I would like to take old crusty carburetors and try to make them like the holley -s series(shiny). I would think that they are all the same pot metal, some are tumbled shiny and some are made gold dichromate? Does anyone have a suggestion on what media I should use? I like the idea of putting a pump and filter on this unit to keep it fairly clean while the media breaks down. Thanks in advance for any help/ideas.
On our Royson tumblers we used a five gallon bucket as the solution reservoir, with an upside down empty one gallon paint can in the bottom as a makeshift shelf with a small pond pump sitting on the small can. That let grit settle to the bottom around the small can and kept the pump up about halfway so it drew clean water to send to the tumbler. A small valve to cut the flow to 1-5 drops per second (from memory), and the return hose extended to the bottom of the five gallon bucket.
Carl Ijames, chemist not engine builder
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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by Mechcanic » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:36 am

When we used ceramic media on aluminum it worked fine. It was matter of how much time parts spent in the media that dictated how much cleanup was done. You should use a lubricant as those ceramic triangles get dusty quick.

We used cheap vinyl caps (from stock cap - www.stockcap.com) and our machine was a Burr king unit (out of Warsaw, MO). I am sure they have info that would help.

Before we bucked up for a large unit we tested the concept on a smaller rotary one. Another trick is to put a course burlap over our 5 gallon bucket to catch most of the sediment and a double weir bucket in a bucket in a bucket to help the pump. We used a small little giant pump with a 1/4 npt outlet and never had any trouble. It does get messy.

A dry method is to use steel balls or triangles.

Please test any method with scrap pieces to prevent unplanned damage. Most of all, time everything you do, don't just let it run as you will have difficulty getting consistency.
A tool that is in use, if dropped, will fall to a place directly proportional to the length of your arm plus 8 inches. :-D

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by In-Tech » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:45 am

Thanks for the tips, I like the bucket in a bucket idea for the pump.
Mechanic, you mentioned a lubricant. What liquid are you using? What lubricant? My initial thoughts were to use purple power and marvel mystery oil but I dunno, always looking for suggestions. Maybe straight wd40 by the gallon? wd40 does clean metal pretty well. Again, I want to clean up old holley carb bodies, bowls, metering blocks, etc. and the occasional carter/edelbrock.
As far as pumps go, what do you guys think? I was thinking one of those junker pulse pumps and a 100 micron stainless cleanable filter would work.
Thanks again.
Heat is energy, energy is horsepower...but you gotta control the heat.
-Carl

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by Mechcanic » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:06 am

In-Tech wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:45 am
Thanks for the tips, I like the bucket in a bucket idea for the pump.
Mechanic, you mentioned a lubricant. What liquid are you using? What lubricant? My initial thoughts were to use purple power and marvel mystery oil but I dunno, always looking for suggestions. Maybe straight wd40 by the gallon? wd40 does clean metal pretty well. Again, I want to clean up old holley carb bodies, bowls, metering blocks, etc. and the occasional carter/edelbrock.
As far as pumps go, what do you guys think? I was thinking one of those junker pulse pumps and a 100 micron stainless cleanable filter would work.
Thanks again.
Very Welcome!
I believe this is what we used (https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/90607979). It contains a rust inhibitor we never had any issues. The media does the work not the media additive, but who knows WD may work great. You would have to update the WD-40 to WD-41.

The pump would depend on what your sending through it, so you may have to dig a little. The problem with the filter is the size. When we tried a coffee filter with the holder from a scrap coffee machine it worked for all of 15min before clogging with worn media and grime even with modified drain hole. The 20 inch filter we ended with in our trial system could run a whole day. Its the surface area of the filter that will drive how long it will last. It was between cheesecloth and burlap I do not remember where we sourced it from. A pump with a built in screen might be limited in how much it can remove before cleaning is needed.
A tool that is in use, if dropped, will fall to a place directly proportional to the length of your arm plus 8 inches. :-D

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Re: Who uses a vibratory tumbler

Post by In-Tech » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:26 am

I use one of these el cheapo pulse pumps to drain fuel tanks in cars where the fuel is suspect. They are not high flow and don't need or want high flow, just seems the pulse pump won't care as much about the media especially if I have the filter in front of it.
Pulse_Pump.JPG
These guys(System1) are just down the road from me so I think I'll try one of the 2" x 12" 75 micron jobbers. I have been meaning to go down there and visit Bob at the mag shop anyway, they have some interesting high capacity diesel filters too so I'll see what they have to say. For the low volume a -6 should work just fine.
system1.JPG
I really only do about 1 carb a month on average so if I have to clean the element after each use, that shouldn't be too bad.
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Heat is energy, energy is horsepower...but you gotta control the heat.
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