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Large vibratory tumblers

20+ years ago I bought a 20" vibratory tumbler from Maisels in
Albuquerque. They are out of business now. Last year the motor
finally conked out and I went to Graingers to see if I could find a
replacement. It seems that large tumbler motors are designed and
engineered around heavy duty bearings (larger shafts), low amperage,
and other specialty configurations that work with a capacitor to be
able to withstand the stress and strain of running an eccentric
weight for long periods of time. They look like generic motors but
they are not. Graingers had no suitable substitute for a replacement
motor (they certainly did try).

I tried to have the motor rewound and was told it would be too
expensive ($300+). I called the manufacturer on the label of the
motor and was told the motor was manufactured for Gemstone in
California. I called Gemstone and was told they had redesigned their
tumbler and would sell me a completely new tumbler at a discount. I
took them up on their offer.

Last night my flow thru system clogged and overflowed and somehow got
water in the motor. The motor is completely sealed and I cannot
figure how water got into the motor but it did. Anyway the motor is
not running properly and I called the manufacturer to order another
motor. The motors are $250 dollars! Once again I took this different
motor to Grainger to see if they have a suitable replacement. Same
story (no suitable replacement). I am currently working to get this
motor repaired and have had to order a new motor for $250 bucks
(ouch).The Gemstone tumbler is still considerably less expensive than
the other ones I have seen on the market. Hopefully this last motor
burnout problem is just a fluke (the first one lasted 11 years).To
solve the overflow problem (if clogged) I am planning to plumb a line
from the top of the tumbler to the solution bucket.

My question is this. Does anyone else use large vibratory tumblers?
What are your experiences and what type of vibratory equipment do you
recommend for parts availability and affordability. Has anyone had
luck with industrial surplus? (what brands and styles should one look
for and what about parts). My tumbling volume will increase in the
future and I want to have a better handle on what direction to go in
relation to equipment.

Also has anyone discovered a superior recirculating pump? I have to
buy several of those per year also.


Kenneth - first, my sympathies on your trials with your tumblers.

I was unable to find a link to “Gemstones” company in California, so
I can’t comment directly on your machine.

Usually vibratory tumblers are described by volume - 6 quart, for
example - rather than size, so again it’s hard to answer for your
exact problem.

I’ve been using a mid-sized bunch of tumblers for about 16 years.
Lyman industries makes the Raytech brand and they have been solid and
reliable. I recommend them for flow-thru applications. They come in
quite a number of sizes and are sold by most of the jewelry supply
companies. Prices range from $500 to $1000US.

The problem you have experienced with a clogged outlet could be a
number of things - sometimes new media has small pieces in the batch
and they conspire to plug the holes in the drain. For that reason, I
"break in" new media, checking regularly for a problem. Different
tumblers have differing screens on the drain and your new one may
need some modification to drain properly.

I am still using the recirculating aquarium pumps I got when I first
started. However, being an engineer, it seemed an invitation to
trouble to set the pump in the sludge on the bottom of the recycle
bucket. I devised a porous platform that holds the pump about 4
inches above the bottom. The pumps have lasted so far.

The prices seemed high to me when I started this business. Today,
they seem cheap. They largely replace another body in the shop, they
don’t want vacations and don’t “tie one on” on the weekend. I use
them for intermediate deburring, initial cleaning of castings,
special texturing, cleaning, and of course final finishing.

I wrote a small book about the use of tumblers that you might find
useful - “Tumble Finishing for Handmade Jewelry” and several of our
Orchid advertisers can supply you with a copy. It does show how to
make the porous platform for the pump.

Judy Hoch

Kenneth (and Judy) - I have Judy’s book:

'Tumble Finishing For Handmade Jewelry" Thanks Judy for the book. It
has been very helpful. I have Raytech’s Vibratory tumbler that is
for stee shot up to 50 lbs… Had it for a 4 years. It runs steady
and saves me a lot of time. I bought it with the flow through set up
which you can make yourself but was reasonable to buy with it. It
was around 500$ at Rio. I could actually use a larger tumbler now but
I am waiting until winter to do a check on all the shop tools.Also
have a medium and small rotary tumbler from thumblers tumblers. Have
had those 10 years and they run great too.

I sometimes have them all going at various stages which Judy’s book
really helps with. The media and times and steps are all there for
you. Hope it helps.

Love my tumblers for their effeciency especially with small parts
and castings - can’t beat it. :wink:

joy kruse