Go Back   The Ford Barn > General Discussion > Early V8 (1932-53)

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-09-2020, 05:42 PM   #1
Admiral
Senior Member
 
Admiral's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Oakland County, Michigan
Posts: 517
Default Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

I’ve been toying with the idea of using a rock tumbler to clean small parts like bolts and valvetrain components. A vibratory cleaner is probably a better option, but they cost a lot more and are quite poorly reviewed on Amazon and other websites. It seems they tend to shake themselves to pieces. In comparison, a rock tumbler just rolls along quietly at low RPM, so the likelihood of one self-destructing is much lower.

Over the weekend, I finally got around to purchasing one of these things from my local China-Mart. This Harbor Freight special is the fancier of the two rock tumblers they sell and cost about $58, though I did take advantage of a 20-percent-off coupon. I used the money saved to purchase the two-year protection plan because I know how Harbor Freight stuff lasts…

Once I got home, I loaded the two drums with some small fasteners, horseshoe clips, valvetrain components and head bolts. I then added some coarse sandblasting aggregate that I’ve had sitting under the workbench for ages and sealed the drums. I did not add any water, though I may try this in the future.

After about 24 hours of tumblin’ I was quite impressed by the results. Nearly all the parts were free of paint, rust and crud, polished to a dull, dark-gray finish. A quick trip to the laundry tub for a hot, sudsy bath removed all the fine dust from these components. Naturally, before reuse, you’ll want to go over all the threads and make sure they’re free of any sand or grit that may not have been washed away in the sink.

Overall, the wire wheel still does a better job cleaning things than a rock tumbler, but you know what I like about this method? I don’t have to stand at the wire wheel for hours! If you’ve got a pile of parts to clean and some patience, give this method a try.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Rock-Tumbled-Parts-01.jpg (160.5 KB, 186 views)
File Type: jpg Rock-Tumbled-Parts-02.jpg (114.1 KB, 161 views)
File Type: jpg Rock-Tumbled-Parts-03.jpg (104.7 KB, 160 views)
__________________
Eight cylinders, four doors, three speeds, one good time
Admiral is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2020, 06:46 PM   #2
Jack E/NJ
Senior Member
 
Jack E/NJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1,676
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

In the olden days before HF, we used to call these ball mills. Usually made from the two rollers of discarded Maytag ringer washers at about the time when automatic spindriers became popular. Mount the rollers on a 2x4 with the original Maytag pillowblocks. Put a bunch of spark plugs, bolts or whatever into a paint can with some water, Rinso & fine sand. Then roll the can away. with the Maytag motot's output shaft positioned atop one of the rollers. I still do it this way today. But have to use Purex Ultra liquid detergent cuz Rinso's hard to find these days. 8^) Jack E/NJ
Jack E/NJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)
Old 03-09-2020, 11:12 PM   #3
tomcarman
Senior Member
 
tomcarman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Rochester Wa
Posts: 136
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Brilliant idea and results. I like that the finished result leaves what appears to be patina. Good thinking.
tomcarman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 12:10 AM   #4
RalphM
Senior Member
 
RalphM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: North Pole, Alaska
Posts: 2,422
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

I have used this method as well as a vibratory case tumbler(used for cartridge cases) both work OK if you do not have any grease on the parts. There is a tumbling media for rock Tumblr‘s that includes a lot of jagged odd shapes of metal. These work best. Although I cannot remember where I got them from years ago.
Something like this. Works good with water.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 88AA7C87-69F0-4FD6-8837-9C89E4393517.jpg (9.0 KB, 116 views)
RalphM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 12:17 AM   #5
Tinker
Senior Member
 
Tinker's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: MN/FL
Posts: 5,589
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Here is a post on rock tumblers and ultrasonic cleaning.


https://www.garagejournal.com/forum/...d.php?t=353251
https://www.garagejournal.com/forum/...d.php?t=353251


.
Tinker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 02:50 AM   #6
frnkeore
Senior Member
 
frnkeore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Southern Oregon
Posts: 396
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

I just did the same thing, with a set of OHV race springs and a HF rock tumbler (stole it from my wife). The springs were dry, w/o any oil or grease, just rust.

I used silica sand, dry. It only took about 12 hours.

I've also found a great de-greaser. $25 for 5 gallons. It's what restaurants use. I use it like the old carb cleaner, with a basket from one of those.

It's recommend to be cut, at least 10/1, with water but, so far, I've used it straight. It doesn't clean as well as carb cleaner but, it does take all the oil and grease off.

I haven't used it with a pressure washer, just rinse in hot water and blow dry.
__________________
Frank
'35 Ford Model 51
'48 Ford F3
frnkeore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 05:31 AM   #7
Tim Ayers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: NJ
Posts: 3,483
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Quote:
Originally Posted by frnkeore View Post
I just did the same thing, with a set of OHV race springs and a HF rock tumbler (stole it from my wife). The springs were dry, w/o any oil or grease, just rust.

I used silica sand, dry. It only took about 12 hours.

I've also found a great de-greaser. $25 for 5 gallons. It's what restaurants use. I use it like the old carb cleaner, with a basket from one of those.

It's recommend to be cut, at least 10/1, with water but, so far, I've used it straight. It doesn't clean as well as carb cleaner but, it does take all the oil and grease off.

I haven't used it with a pressure washer, just rinse in hot water and blow dry.
What’s the degreaser called?
Tim Ayers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 10:33 AM   #8
Terranova
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Grove City, Oh
Posts: 223
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

After watching a couple YouTube videos I tried to build a vibratory cleaner from an old palm sander and some spare parts. Fail.
I’ve been contemplating getting one from HF but just have had the need yet.
Your experiment might push me toward the rock tumbler.
Terranova is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 02:39 PM   #9
frnkeore
Senior Member
 
frnkeore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Southern Oregon
Posts: 396
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

The brand name is First Street. It's called a Heavy Duty, Cleaner Degreaser.

It comes in 1 and 5 gallon conainers.

I bought it at a open to the public, wholesale type, food and restaurant, supply place.
__________________
Frank
'35 Ford Model 51
'48 Ford F3
frnkeore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 03:23 PM   #10
steve hackel
Senior Member
 
steve hackel's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: midlothian illinois
Posts: 329
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Regarding vibratory tumblers and their media: keep in mind that silica sand is only effective when striking a surface at speed or under pressure and not in general contact. Once struck, most of it breaks down and the dust/residue goes into the air. Conversely, aluminum oxide or silicon carbide is many times stronger and denser, plus being sharper. Aluminum oxide being fused into a tumbling shape of ceramic composition is far superior to loose aluminum oxide aggregate. When used in a slurry with a simple green type cleaner, it works fantastic, as long as you can circulate the liquid with a cheap H.F. fountain pump into a remote 5 gal bucket.
Once your liquid is circulating,and the pump is several inches off the bottom of the 5gal bucket, the heavy particles in suspension will settle to the bottom and only the dirty liquid will be returned to the tumbler bowl. Ceramic stones infused with aluminum oxide can be purchased through Mc Master Carr in 25 & 50lb boxes , all UPS friendly. Once all of your parts are cleaned and dry, you can polish all of them with the same equipment, but using crushed corn Cobb or walnut shells - some of these are also available with infused abrasives to help polishing.
I currently have 6 of these units ranging is sizes from 1gal. 3 at 12 gal, 1 at 15gal, and my biggest at 30+ gal and I use them weekly.
If you need any additional help. Send me a private message and I'll do my best. Steve
steve hackel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2020, 08:10 PM   #11
Tim Ayers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: NJ
Posts: 3,483
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Quote:
Originally Posted by frnkeore View Post
The brand name is First Street. It's called a Heavy Duty, Cleaner Degreaser.

It comes in 1 and 5 gallon conainers.

I bought it at a open to the public, wholesale type, food and restaurant, supply place.
Thank you.
Tim Ayers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2020, 12:49 AM   #12
RalphM
Senior Member
 
RalphM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: North Pole, Alaska
Posts: 2,422
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

I remember trying to clean 94 carb parts with the walnut shells in my case cleaner once. Took me forever to get the shell particles out of the tiny passages! Never again.
RalphM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2020, 07:37 AM   #13
TomT/Williamsburg
Senior Member
 
TomT/Williamsburg's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Posts: 2,327
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

I did an brake once in a rock tumbler - took me quite a while to get all the rocks out of the passages in that too! But, it looked great when done ..... lol!
TomT/Williamsburg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2020, 06:45 AM   #14
swanwaco32
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: KC
Posts: 245
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

I know a guy who had a Harbor Freight tumbler burn his shop down while he was not there..!!
swanwaco32 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2020, 02:23 AM   #15
fourfords
Senior Member
 
fourfords's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Lake Elsinore, CA.
Posts: 350
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Isn't a rock tumbler primarily used for deburring machined parts?
fourfords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2020, 10:40 AM   #16
RalphM
Senior Member
 
RalphM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: North Pole, Alaska
Posts: 2,422
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

Yes, after all they will smooth rocks out. But they can be used for cleaning, are used to shoot high power and would clean all my brass cases in a rock Tumblr. Just don’t leave them in there too long.
I used a mixture of water, jagged media and a little bit of soap like Dawn. When I pulled the cases out i would bake them in the oven at low temperature to dry them thoroughly.
They also work very well on small automotive parts.
RalphM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2020, 06:26 PM   #17
Krylon32
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 2,430
Default Re: Cleaning Parts with a Rock Tumbler

When I first started my business I used to make all my small chassis parts and I had them cut on a plasma table which left some small slag on them. I got some small smooth landscaping round river rock and had a small electric cement mixer that I used to clean the parts. It did a really good job giving the surface a neat tumbled look.
Krylon32 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Sponsored Links (Register now to hide all advertisements)


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:50 AM.