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  #1  
Old 01-30-2014, 12:13 PM
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Default Harbor Freight Cheap Tumbler Results

My first batch of HXP through the $49.00 Harbor Freight Special. I have tumbled quite a bit of pistol brass through it and it turns out fine but I wondered if the small size would compromise the results when tumbling larger brass. I am pretty happy, this HXP was filthy, lots of carbon and picked up out of the dirt.
If you are a newbie and can't afford the $200.00+ for a large tumbler, don't be afraid to try the cheap Harbor Freight tumbler, it works fine. The only real downside is that you can only do two pounds at a time, which meant 76 .30-06. But for small volume, the Harbor Freight seems to do the trick.



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  #2  
Old 01-30-2014, 12:22 PM
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Just bought one. What media did you use? Did you add a wax? Going to give mine a run this weekend...
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  #3  
Old 01-30-2014, 12:45 PM
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How long do you have to let it tumble?


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  #4  
Old 01-30-2014, 1:24 PM
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Yup Capy, your results are not unusual. I've run .223 & .308 brass through my Habor Freight tumbler with the same results.

All I used was 1LB of stainless steel media in each drum along with some dishwasher soap and Lemishine. I even did it without Lemishine and had the same results.

I also ran each batch about an hour. I found no difference in letting it run for more time than an hour.

It's a great value item and with the warranty options, it's even better.
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Old 01-30-2014, 1:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TacticalPlinker View Post
Yup Capy, your results are not unusual. I've run .223 & .308 brass through my Habor Freight tumbler with the same results.

All I used was 1LB of stainless steel media in each drum along with some dishwasher soap and Lemishine. I even did it without Lemishine and had the same results.

I also ran each batch about an hour. I found no difference in letting it run for more time than an hour.

It's a great value item and with the warranty options, it's even better.
I do exactly the same. The only thing I have to add is I run it through a RCBS Vibratory Case with Lyman polishing media after to dry and super shine them!
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Old 01-30-2014, 2:48 PM
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I have the same tumbler, I use the walnut shell media and added a little car wax. Works great, but I let it tumble around for a couple hours.
My brass is nice and happy!
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  #7  
Old 01-30-2014, 2:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikr4jc View Post
Just bought one. What media did you use? Did you add a wax? Going to give mine a run this weekend...
Just like Tactical Plinker above says, 1lb of stainless steel media, cover the shells with water, couple of drops of dish soap and half of a 9mm case of Lemishine. I let it run for 2 hours but of course, YMMV. Most of my ammo is plinking ammo so this is plenty shiny for me. I can't see wasting the extra time in polishing and waxing each case, but to each their own. I will be buying a Big Dawg 8" Large tumbler as soon as I can afford it but this will hold me over for a few months. I have been doing the math and the Tumlers Tumblers don't see to be that great of a value. Sure, they are built much better than the Harbor Freight cheapies, but even the new one (Extreme) maxes out at "3-4" lbs of brass. For less than $100.00, you could have two Harbor Freight Duals that handle the same amount. The Extreme is $249.00 for the package with the SS media. The Big Dawg 8" Medium is $515.00 for the kit but it can hold 13lbs of cases, with 15lbs of stainless steel media which is:

1534 9mm cases
1300 40 sw cases
1014 45 acp cases
962 223/5.56 cases
520 308 cases

at once!

For me, I am either going cheap (may buy one more Harbor Freight Tumbler) or I will go for a Big Dawg 8" Medium. One thing I like better about the Harbor Freight Tumblers though is because they have two smaller drums, I can run a load of 9mm and a load of .45 ACP at the same time. If you are a last minute kind of reloader, like you reload one weekend to shoot it all the next weekend, I could see having one or two Harbor Freights could be the hot tip. But if you like to do all of your brass prep at once, say over 1,000 rounds, the Big Dawg is the way to go. To me, the Tumlers value equation doesn't quite work although the quality over the HF tumbler is undoubtedly much better.
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Last edited by Capybara; 01-30-2014 at 2:56 PM..
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  #8  
Old 01-30-2014, 3:04 PM
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Yea there was a thread here about 20 of us jumped on them. Didn't see any negative reports really. Great little tumbler for the price!

I love mine. Just a b**h to get the lid off. But I'd rather have it too tight than too loose and fall off and leak all over.
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  #9  
Old 01-30-2014, 3:51 PM
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The drums are small, but you can still crank out quite a bit of brass through it. Since Monday I have tumbled 1,000 cases of .223, and 600 cases of .308 for my personal use, as well as 500 cases of .223, and 1000 cases of .40S&W for the VC clinic on this coming Sunday. That is 6 one gallon zip lock bags packed full of brass in 3.5 days. It is a good little tumbler, but I personal thing I am ready to step up to a bigger tumbler for mass processing. I will still use the HF tumbler for small batch stuff and to supplement the larger tumbler.
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Old 01-30-2014, 4:03 PM
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$45 before tax and shipping is not a terrible price. I'm going to pick one up tomorrow to go with my stainless tumbler. I hate wet tumbling after the lube/size step when it really just needs a nice wipe off.
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  #11  
Old 01-30-2014, 5:42 PM
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Mine worked real nice too, even better when I switched to the bigger pins that Stilly sells. I just got the Thumler at a good price used, and man, that sucker will do a lot of brass at one time, about 1,200 9mm cases at one time. I'm catching up on all the brass that has been sitting in my closet for 20 years dirty. I don't Lemishine until after I rinse and separate the stainless pins, because Lemishine is not good for the pins. I let the clean brass soak in warm water with Lemishine for 20 minutes, then rinse again, roll in a beach towel to get most of the water, and bake for 30 at 205 degrees. It comes out dry and shiny.
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Old 01-30-2014, 6:05 PM
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I've got the same setup and the same results using 1lb stainless media, dash of Dawn, dash of Lemishine, and top with tap hot water in each drum. Let it run about an hour then hand clean.

I used to let them dry on paper towels. My latest batch was baking in oven for 40 minutes at 175F.

Each drum fits 100 pistol rounds(45) or 50 rifle rounds(6.8).

Probably spent more on the media than the tumbler.
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Old 01-30-2014, 7:12 PM
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I have a HF tumbler also, I use their walnut media. I'm pretty happy with it I have not experimented with wax but I have shot some metal polish in the mix. It clumps up though so no go in the future.
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Old 01-30-2014, 7:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikr4jc View Post
Just bought one. What media did you use? Did you add a wax? Going to give mine a run this weekend...
I think there are two main ways people go.
1) Walnut media with a cap full of nufinish. Media can be used many times.
or
2) Stainless steel pins, water, dawn dish soap, and a dash of lemishine. The lemishine is acidic so don't go crazy or it could mess up the brass and/or continue to eat at it after your done.
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Old 01-30-2014, 7:55 PM
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Read this article about why you should not run Lemishine (Citric Acid) with the SS pins.

http://www.finishing.com/466/18.shtml

Also, some users have said that the Lemishine in the wash cycle made some of the brass discolor compared to using it as a separate step. I have tried it both ways, and my cases come out much more shiny if I just use Dawn in the wash cycle, and soak in Lemishine after.
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  #16  
Old 01-30-2014, 8:22 PM
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if you are getting discoloration you are using way too much lemishine. I been using the dawn lemishine combo for more than a year and never had issues with brass or the pins.

Since ive used the tumbler, ive reduced the tumbling time from 1 hour to just 30 minutes and it comes out just as shiny so i stopped doing it for so long.
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  #17  
Old 01-30-2014, 8:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 'ol shooter View Post
Read this article about why you should not run Lemishine (Citric Acid) with the SS pins.

http://www.finishing.com/466/18.shtml

Also, some users have said that the Lemishine in the wash cycle made some of the brass discolor compared to using it as a separate step. I have tried it both ways, and my cases come out much more shiny if I just use Dawn in the wash cycle, and soak in Lemishine after.
Better let Stilly know. I know he bought like a few pounds of pure citric acid to run in his thumbler or so.
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Old 01-30-2014, 9:20 PM
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I run whatever dish soap we have (think Costco brand), cold water, and half a tsp of Lemi. Run in my thumler's for an hour, then rinse. They are super shiny at that point. Afterwards, a quick towel off, they bake at 200 degrees for an hour. Usually after a bake, they aren't as shiny, but they are very clean. At that point, I don't care if I can't see my reflection, just knowing that it's clean and will shoot well keeps me happy enough.
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Old 01-30-2014, 9:22 PM
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I've used a pair of those for about 3 months now and they work great. I load up 100 pieces of .223 in each drum and let them roll for about 2 hours. I just recently bought a Thumblers model B so I've since retired them. If anyone wants my two tumblers, PM me and I'll work out a deal for the pair.
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  #20  
Old 01-30-2014, 9:28 PM
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How are you guys sifting through the media to get all the brass?
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Old 01-30-2014, 9:35 PM
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I use a fine mesh strainer under a Lyman turbo sorter over a bucket to separate the stainless pins.
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  #22  
Old 01-31-2014, 6:03 AM
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Lyman Media Sorter http://www.midwayusa.com/product/715...ProductFinding

Works great.
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  #23  
Old 02-01-2014, 10:24 AM
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From you guys using walnut media, do you use it dry or do you use it with water/soap like with the steel pins?
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:29 AM
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From you guys using walnut media, do you use it dry or do you use it with water/soap like with the steel pins?
DRY!
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Old 02-02-2014, 6:42 PM
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Cool, thank you.
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Old 02-03-2014, 8:17 AM
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Anyone have a model or part number for the Harbor Freight tumbler?
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Old 02-03-2014, 8:30 AM
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Anyone have a model or part number for the Harbor Freight tumbler?
http://www.harborfreight.com/3-lb-ro...ler-67631.html

or

http://www.harborfreight.com/dual-dr...ler-67632.html
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  #28  
Old 02-03-2014, 8:33 AM
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Anyone have a model or part number for the Harbor Freight tumbler?
They are called rotary rock tumblers. Just do a search on the HF site and you will find them.
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Old 02-03-2014, 8:36 AM
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Where do you get stainless steel media?
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Old 02-03-2014, 8:43 AM
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http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...php?p=10561177
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  #31  
Old 02-03-2014, 9:26 AM
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I use the harbor freight tumbler for my brass with stainless media. My results are far better with stainless than with walnut and much cleaner. For anyone reading this that is interested, save yourself the time and money and buy the double drum model. The single works just fine but gets tedious when processing lots of brass.

As for the lemishine, start with less and figure out how much works best for you. I've over-done it before and ended up with discoloring. I've also used less than I should and had less shine on the brass. Once you get the right combo (as I'm sure most people here know), you'll be amazed at the results.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:26 PM
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I bought this one at harbor freight, shouldn't have any issues I hope? http://m.harborfreight.com/5-lb-meta...ler-67617.html
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:28 PM
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Nevermind. I just read the reviews and looks like I'll be good to go. Just need to get the sifter.
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Old 02-03-2014, 2:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hvac_dude View Post
I bought this one at harbor freight, shouldn't have any issues I hope? http://m.harborfreight.com/5-lb-meta...ler-67617.html
I've used one of those for over a year...walnut media and a little NuFinish...works great!
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Old 02-03-2014, 2:51 PM
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Quote:
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I bought this one at harbor freight, shouldn't have any issues I hope? http://m.harborfreight.com/5-lb-meta...ler-67617.html
I have the same one and it's GTG, I've cleaned over 600pcs of .223 and 200 .45 the first weekend I got it.
I also went to Petco for the Lizard bedding:
http://www.petco.com/product/102881/...e-Bedding.aspx
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Old 02-03-2014, 3:25 PM
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I got the walnut as well. Sifter and a pocket reamer for all this crimped brass are getting ordered tonight. Thanks!
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Old 02-03-2014, 3:32 PM
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I also use the HF rotary tumbler with stainless media. The results are consistently good. I tumble with the dawn and just a touch of lemishine.

The brass does tarnish quickly using this method alone. I have my ocd tenancies...

I found that after separating the media and brass, I put a decent dash of lemishine in a deep Ziploc container (the rectangle ones that are probably 4" deep.) and fill it with an inch or two of cold water. Dump the brass in, give it a shake, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then drain and shake most all the water out of the brass and lay out to air dry. The brass seems to stay brighter longer.
I also keep deprimed, cleaned and dried brass in gallon ziplock bags sorted by caliber and headstamp.


The primer pockets never get completely clean. Anyone have any Ideas?
Otherwise I'll just accept it until I can justify a thumbler.
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  #38  
Old 02-08-2014, 9:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hvac_dude View Post
I bought this one at harbor freight, shouldn't have any issues I hope? http://m.harborfreight.com/5-lb-meta...ler-67617.html
That's the one I use also and walnut media.
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