Ditchdigger SuperDork
12/18/13 10:18 p.m.

This is a tool I use almost every day. The vibratory tumbler.

It isn't a cheaper way to do things. It isn't a faster way to do things. It saves a lot of labor and the finish it leaves is far superior to a wire wheel. Crusty, rusty and greasy nuts, bolts and anything else that will fit in the bowl come out spotless and ready for finishing or plating.

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I started a new batch this evening and snapped some pics for you folks.

Here we have the complete rocker assembly (minus the shaft) from a Ford 200 six and the water neck thrown in for good measure.

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Using the bowl with a ceramic nut and bolt media since the green pyramid one was already running a batch.

chuck the parts in the bowl with about a cup of whatever degreaser you have around. Simple green, purple power, super clean or whatever. I am using a blue colored type that we pick up at the restaurant supply house for $15 for 5 gallons. Pour in enough water that you you start to see it at the top level of the media.

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Then put the lid on and turn it on and walk away for 12 hours or so. If you were inclined to take the lid off and peek inside it would look like this


While this is happening I have been to the store, made a nice Tikka Masala and eaten it, had a few beers and whatever. It will continue churning away as I sleep, brush my teeth and whatever else I do before I return to work and dump it out.

We also do this on a much larger scale. This is the oil pan from my inline. It is over 28" long.

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This machine will wake the dead though. It is LOUD and the vibrations it sends through the ground ensure everyone within a city block knows it is running.

Cool to watch though


Due to its sheer violence and super aggressive media it only takes an hour or so to strip any paint, rust or grease off of whatever it will not pulverize. I like to toss transmission cases, brake calipers, exhaust manifolds and other larger items in it. It did destroy some pricey Austin-Healey headlight buckets once

OK more pics tomorrow of the results.

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
12/18/13 10:40 p.m.

Is there a media guide for these things somewhere? I have one and a bunch of green pyramid media but havent had great luck with it.

I was skipping the degreaser/water step though.

Ditchdigger SuperDork
12/18/13 11:12 p.m.

In reply to Swank Force One:

I had the same luck as you with my little HF 5lb unit. I kept using it dry and got nowhere. Put it away for a few years until I got frustrated with sandblasting and wire wheeling fasteners before plating. The liquid makes all the difference in the world. It runs quieter with water in it as well.

slow New Reader
12/18/13 11:19 p.m.

Wasn't the vibrator that I thought it was about

JoeyM Mod Squad
12/18/13 11:26 p.m.

I'm glad you posted this. I've been eyeing the Harbor Freight one. After watching your video I had an "Ah-ha" moment.....I should have had one a long time ago. I could have used it to strip the galvanizing off of bolts before welding them. That would have been a lot better than holding my breath....

noddaz Dork
12/19/13 7:05 a.m.

And the follow up shots?

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
12/19/13 7:11 a.m.

I agree with you


fasted58 PowerDork
12/19/13 7:25 a.m.
JoeyM wrote: I could have used it to strip the galvanizing off of bolts before welding them. That would have been a lot better than holding my breath....

Soaking in muriatic acid will strip galvanized, zinc, cad and rust quickly. 5-10 minutes. Use outdoors, don't breath fumes. Do not use on aluminum.

Ditchdigger SuperDork
12/19/13 11:41 a.m.

Rinsed off

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And the water neck? I learned that under that crap and gunk it was cracked and JB Welded back together.

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I just ordered the Eastwood tin zinc plating set and the metal blackening system. We will see how those work in the next few weeks.

bgkast Dork
12/19/13 11:49 a.m.

Any experience with the smaller (cheaper) 5 lb model?

Keep us posted on the plating system.

oldtin UltraDork
12/19/13 12:11 p.m.

turboswede UltimaDork
12/19/13 1:01 p.m.

Yup, I love mine and I found a pretty decent guide online here:


bgkast Dork
12/19/13 1:48 p.m.

In reply to oldtin: Details on the home brew version?

Ditchdigger SuperDork
12/19/13 3:21 p.m.
bgkast wrote: Any experience with the smaller (cheaper) 5 lb model?

It was the first one I bought. I ended up using it at work for about 2 months. After month one it had to be disassembled and every fastener loctited and tightened. It made it another month before the motor burnt out.

The 5lb'er seemed to take longer to do its job. I remember when we upgraded it was a bit of a "Hey this works better than the old one" moment.

Woody MegaDork
12/19/13 4:05 p.m.

I used to use an RCBS one with dry media and gave up on it like Swank Force One. I never thought about using degreaser and, unfortunately, I have since sold it. My main problem is that I'm impatient and it's noisy.

That's a beautiful bolt, though...

JoeyM Mod Squad
12/19/13 4:07 p.m.

I drove to the nearest HF today to get one, and they were sold out.

Woody MegaDork
12/19/13 4:11 p.m.

Yeah, I was just thinking that I'll have to see what Harbor Freight has.

Not only was my RCBS tumbler loud, it used to walk all over the floor when it was on.

oldtin UltraDork
1/19/14 11:40 a.m.

The homebrew version is very easy - but probably just as cheap to get the HF one. - Two plastic tubs. First is bolted to the metal plate. 2nd is for media. Metal plate is mounted to a base plate with springs. Motor is about a 1/3 hp. Shaft of the motor has an offset weight (drilled and has a bolt tapped into one side so it vibrates).

ProDarwin UltraDork
1/19/14 3:35 p.m.

For the small stuff, an ultrasonic cleaner seems like a better solution. Quieter, easier to manage, faster...

turboswede UltimaDork
1/20/14 9:48 a.m.

I used my small HF vibratory tumbler this weekend to clean hardware for my turbo reinstall. Worked great. I used the HF green ceramic triangular media with a dash of simple green and water to degrease and degunk the bolts and nuts, etc.

Set it up on Friday afternoon, kicked it off as we went out the door and went to dinner with my folks, got home 7 hours later to clean parts.

A few things to note: The simple green will foam up and could cause a mess, obviously run this in an area where a little mess isn't a problem. The wingnut that holds the top on can/will come loose, I added another 1/4" nut to hold it in place. Take some of the media with you and head to the local Goodwill/Thrift Store to find a colander that will allow the media to fall through to make it easier to get your parts out and rinse off the excess soap, etc.

wearymicrobe Dork
1/20/14 10:18 a.m.
ProDarwin wrote: For the small stuff, an ultrasonic cleaner seems like a better solution. Quieter, easier to manage, faster...

Ultrasonic does not get the thick crud off like a tumbler with.

Ian F
Ian F UltimaDork
1/20/14 2:04 p.m.
Swank Force One wrote: Is there a media guide for these things somewhere? I have one and a bunch of green pyramid media but havent had great luck with it. I was skipping the degreaser/water step though.

Same here. I bought a Eastwood tumbler with the green pyramid media and didn't have much luck with it - ended up finishing the cleaning with a wire wheel. The instructions didn't say anything about letting run for 12 hrs, tho...

The large DIY tub version is interesting... I wonder how well that could work on coked up TDI intake manifolds...

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
4/19/20 6:06 p.m.



I just bought one. Trying y'alls trick of green media, purple power, and water to the top of media. Tossed in a dew handful of hardware. Some rusty, some plated, some painted. 


Thanks for this great thread!

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