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Which Vibratory Tumbler?


#1

Hey all,

I hope everyone is well and happy. I’d like to thank everyone for
taking the time to answer my questions. I do have another one.

I’m thinking of making a purchase and getting a mass finishing set
for my workshop. I find that hand polishing is good and all but when
it comes to full scale production, one person at the buff wheel isn’t
enough. Since I am a one man business I’d like to speed things up a
bit and get some help in the form of extra polishing machinery. I’ve
been following a recent post on tumblers for beginners and I’m a bit
confused.

My question is this.

Is there any REAL technical difference between the VIBRATORY
tumblers used by gunsmiths and the tumblers used by jewellers? What
is this difference if any?

Why is there such a difference in the price? I meen the Raytech AV25
model costs something like 400$ and other tumblers for gunsmiths cost
anywhere from 30$ to 100$. Why this difference in price?

Do the cheaper tumblers for gunsmiths use both types of polishing
cycles or just dry cycles? Is there any danger of using them for wet
polishing cycles?

What about the amount of media that can be used. I’ve visited
several gunsmithing companies that carry these tumblers and they only
state the amount of cartridges that can be used (about 500 - 600
casings) how does that translate into rings or other pieces of
jewellery?

Lastly, I’m planning on making a purchase of a mass finishing kit
that will suit the needs of my workshop, but I don’t want to have to
pay for it through my ears. I’m not made out of money. I have seen
Rio’s mass finishing kit and it does seem to suit my needs but it is
a bit pricey. Are there any other alternatives out there that are
much less expensive yet yield the same results?

Thank you all
Lee
Lee Feenix Art Workshop


#2

Lee,

I have been using Dillion Precision ones, that are getting into their
second decade of service. Here is the web page with their Vibrating
Tumblers:

http://dillonprecision.com/template/p.cfm?maj=16&min=0&dyn=1&

I use serveral media seperators, but mostly from the reloading
industry, hole sizes vary with make and model.

Jerry


#3

Lee,

There is no mystery to the difference in price between the cartridge
tumblers and the jewelry tumblers. It is a volume thing. The machines
are basically the same, but the markets are altogether different.
There are tens of millions of Americans who seek identity in gun
ownership and damned few who make jewelry (by comparison). You can
sell beaucoups cartridge burnishers, but not near as many jewelry
burnishers.If you are a manufacturer of vibratory tumblers you can
easily adjust your price downward when someone wants to buy a million
of the gizmos.

One of the key considerations of late is that the cartlidge
burnishers have gone to the dry burnishing method and have redesigned
their barrels in such a way that they are not conducive to wet
burnishing using heavy media. I don’t have a clue as to why this might
not have been a "sweetheart deal " within the industry, but the odor
seems to be present.

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca


#4

Hello Lee,

There are many different opinions when it comes to choosing tumblers
and mass finishing equipment, I’m no different. I’ve had the
opportunity to work with many different types and brands of
tumblers, in hectic environments as well as controlled environments,
and in my experience there are noticeable differences, sometimes
subtle, sometimes glaring. The most obvious is the ability to run
continually all week, month or year, like the Raytech. Also very
important and often over looked is the “action” the tumbler creates,
not all tumblers are created equal, far from it really. My feeling
is, as vibratory finishers go, the Raytech gives the best, most
consistent, finishing action. Purchasing a tumbler is like any other
tool choice, cheap or quality, it really all depends on your needs
and budget.

let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Sales and Support
800-545-6566 ex 13903
technicalsupport@tbg.riogrande.com


#5

As an end user, I have both, those designated for the gun people and
those for jewelers. I give my vote of approval for both. Where money
is tight, of course go for the gun design. Midway is an online
vendor and their products are excellent, and often on sale. I make
the choice of buying an extra bowl, just in case. Never needed it
yet. Does make it convenient to use at least two bowls for different
media.

I also buy used tumblers at Rock and Mineral Club Shows. Most
recently made an excellent buy on a Rotary, and a Vibratory. I may
have to have one reconditioned, left one with Diamond Pacific in
Tucson. An older model of the Vibra-Sonic. Initial cost, plus
reconditioning, is still way below new.

I am a great fan of Vibra Dry, that eliminates the need for a liquid.
Great argument for the Gun type Vibratory Finisher.

Terrie


#6
Is there any REAL technical difference between the VIBRATORY
tumblers used by gunsmiths and the tumblers used by jewellers?
What is this difference if any?

Lee - if you are going to use the tumbler in the same way as the
gunsmiths, it will work fine. BUT - the gunsmiths are using the
tumbler to clean out cartridges - not smooth metal, only finely
polish it. For my last cycle on high polish, I use one of these cheap
tumblers - to put the final finish on jewelry with dry media.

Why is there such a difference in the price? I meen the Raytech
AV25 model costs something like 400$ and other tumblers for
gunsmiths cost anywhere from 30$ to 100$. Why this difference in
price? 

The jewelry finishing vibratory tumblers handle the wet heavy media
needed to do the big work of smoothing uneven surfaces. Think about
them as the automated workers doing the 1200 grit sanding and Tripoli
polish. The media carrier needs to be heavy enough to make the
abrasive work - compare the different polish on your wheel when you
lean into it or just touch it with the jewelry. One cuts, the other
does not. This media is run wet so that the crud can be removed from
the tumbler and not pounded back into your jewelry.

Do the cheaper tumblers for gunsmiths use both types of polishing
cycles or just dry cycles? Is there any danger of using them for
wet polishing cycles?

To the best of my knowledge, gunsmiths or reloaders do not run their
stuff wet. And to make the distinction, most users of cartridge
cleaning tumblers are not gunsmiths, rather reloaders. Gunsmiths are
highly skilled metalsmiths.

And yes there is a danger of using the new reloading tumblers wet -
if water can leak out of the tumbler when running - at a minimum, you
can ruin the motor, or cause a nasty electric shock or fire.

To answer Ron at Mills Gems about a plan to extract more money from
jewelers for tumblers by making the reloading tumblers no longer
appropriate for wet processing, I offer this thought - a mould for
the bowl that has no undercut, and is made of less material, and not
impervious to the abrasives we use is likely to be less expensive to
make. It would not make sense to lose a market if you could satisfy
two separate requirements with one product. It is possible that they
had enough unsatisfied jewelers complaining that they went to the
expense of making a better product for our business.

What about the amount of media that can be used. I've visited
several gunsmithing companies that carry these tumblers and they
only state the amount of cartridges that can be used (about 500 -
600 casings) how does that translate into rings or other pieces of
jewellery? 

While you can do the translation directly into weight of rings,
consider the difference in the softness of the brass metal for
cartridges and silver or gold jewelry. If you run as much jewelry by
weight as cartridges, you will almost surely have impingement on your
work - little dents from the stuff hitting each other. I calculate
available mass by volume - about 10 to 12 percent jewelry is max in
my book.

Also in your considerations for tumblers, even if you can run wet
media in a reloading tumbler because of the bowl shape, consider how
long the tumbler will survive being used at 200 to 300 percent of
design capability. I bought my Raytech tumblers 12 years ago and they
run as well today as when I purchased them. If you are not doing
volume work, but rather work at a hobby level, get the cheapest thing
you can - but expect it perform at that level.

Here’s the commercial - I had all those questions and more at one
time. I did research with major jewelry manufacturers, the US Mint,
and European jewelers. Then I wrote down what I learned in a small
book - Tumble Finishing for Hand Made Jewelry, ISBN 0-9728269-0-4. It
is sold by many of our supporters of Orchid - Rio, Gesswein, Otto
Frei and others. Reading it would save you a lot of time and agony.

Judy Hoch


#7

I thought I’d add my two cents to the ongoing discussion about entry
level & above tumblers. They are MUCH cheaper to buy through hunting
stores. Here is a link to where I bought mine

http://www.cabelas.com

Just search for tumblers & several come up…vibratory & rotary.
Since I’m not an expert on tumblers, I’ll open it up to the more well
versed on this site to comment on the variety/quality of tumblers.


#8

Dear Judy,

Is it possible that you are using a very broad brush to paint some
fine lines ?

I have noticed lately that those who would have us believe that only
the most expensive vibratory tumblers can be expected to perform
ordinary jewelry burnishing and prepolishing tasks are also
frequently beholden to the jewelry supplier’s vested interests.A more
moderate and unbiased approach would recognize that while each type
of equipment is well suited to its task, there are overlapping
capabilities as well. There are jewelry applications that can be
done equally well by either the less expensive reloader’s equipment
or the more expensive jeweler’s machines. Furthermore, it is
important to recognize the fact that some of the reloaders’ machines
cannot be used for wet processes without modifying them. On the other
hand, there ARE some reloader machines that are well suited for many
jeweler applications WITHOUT modifications. As mentioned in another
post, those reloader machines, which have smaller bowls with thicker
walls and slanted straight sides, are the ones best suited for
jeweler applications. My experience over decades is that these
machines are very durable, very effective and cost MUCH less than
comparable jeweler’s versions. Indeed, it is very probable that, in
some cases, the two machines are identical. Those of you who are
smart shoppers know what I am talking about. How many times have you
seen something selling for ten times as much, depending on the
venue?

I would not hesitate for one moment to recommend that anyone buy any
of the products that are sold by reputable jeweler’s supply
companies. On the other hand, I also think that the best way for a
newbie to conserve his or her limited capital would be to learn
using proven economical alternatives. You don’t need a four wheel
drive to run around town on dry pavement

Ron MIlls, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#9

I am considering getting a vibratory tumbler to automate the
finishing process. I am leaning toward buying a Mini-sonic MT-4 from
Diamond Pacific. I think that it would meet my needs. I am not very
prolific and am still a neophyte metalsmith. I would be using it to
finish hand fabricated silver objects, either 3-4 chains or 2 rings
or perhaps 1 cuff bracelet. I like the size of the Mini-sonic and
the fact that it looks to be easier to handle (i.e. power, pick up,
move, dump out, and store) than one of the larger donut shaped
vibratory tumblers. I already have a small Lortone 1.5 rotary
tumbler with 1 lb. of mixed shape stainless steel shot. It does a
good job of burnishing and seems to be a good size for me. I would
get the Mini-sonic and walnut shell with a jar of chrome oxide
polish to add dry finishing to my setup. I would also get some
plastic cones for a cut down cycle.

Does anyone have any comments, corrections or reactions? The
Mini-sonics are not mentioned very often in the archives so perhaps
they are not a type that is generally considered a good idea?

I still have some questions that I haven’t been able to settle as I
read the archives and the manual that the Diamond Pacific sent me.
The Mini-sonic workload is 3/8 cup. Does this mean volume of water
displaced or area of space that the bracelet, etc., would occupy?
Does anyone know if the 4 lb. tub of the Mini-sonic would hold and
finish a cuff bracelet? And, how much of the chrome oxide would I
use for 4 lbs. of walnut shell? My guess-i-mate is 1 pinch.

Thanks, in advance, for any and all help.

Ardetta Bronson

Writing from Southeast Michigan where the yearly snow has been light
but I still can’t wait for spring to warm us up even though I know
that lack of snow may mean a spring drought.

Ps.: Do you need to use iron oxide to polish gold because it is
slightly harder than silver?

Pps.: Anyone one own a Mini-sonic that is sitting around that they
would like to sell? Email me.

Ppps.: I have Judy’s book and I am re-reading it. I also used her
name as a search on the archive since she responds to many of the
tumbling discussions. Did you know that you get 20 pages of results?