Wet Pin Tumbler for Those with no Garage Leftovers

Article 5

Wet Pin Tumbler for Those with no Garage Leftovers

To borrow a phrase, “Things go Better with Applesauce”.

For years I have used several dry media vibrators and tumblers, and none of them have lasted, or worse that that, replacement parts were not available from the makers.  Think I am kidding, try to get a motor for a Lyman or Frankfort vibrator.  You can buy another vibrator for the same money.  So, I determined to make my own tumbler, and try wet pin tumbling.

As I researched the units available, I found that they were either expensive, or had bad longevity reviews.  The case containers leaked, or were difficult to seal / open.  Therefore, I thought I would try to adapt things I am familiar with to the job, and high on my list of features was easily replaceable tumbling jars.  Since I lost all my garage leftovers, it had to be easily sourced parts.

What I came up with for jars was right in my fridge, and available at the grocery store.  Applesauce jars, large size seemed to be just the ticket.  They have molded hand holds that act a gentle agitator baffles, and gasket sealed lids.  If they wear out, I have replacements since I like applesauce.  Now for the device to drive the jars round and round.  I set a price of less than $100.00.  Here is what I came up with.

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This is small enough to use in an apartment, and can do up to 300 5.56 cases.  It is an open plan so I can see if there is anything going wrong and fix it promptly.  The biggest trick is to get the two shafts parallel.  I mounted one shaft, and then spaced the second shaft so to hold the jars off the shelve about ¼”.  I adjusted the second shaft with the jars turning to minimize jar walking.  The two end stops ride between the jar top neck groove, and this will work with large peanut butter jars if you fix some baffles inside.  I use the peanut butter jars to rinse and de-pin the cases after tumbling.

Here is a picture with the jars loaded with H2O and pins.  I use 3.3# of pins per jar.

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Here is a picture of the right end of the drive as above.  This insures that both shafts are rotating, and since the homemade drive belts can slip if the slave shaft jams, there is little to break.  The shafts are covered with 8 mm x 12 mm silicone rubber tubing to provide traction to the jars.  If you need faster rotation you can add some 14 mm x 20 mm silicone tubing over the base tubing.  The larger tubing diameter will rotate the jars faster, but load the drive motor more.  I used some para cord to make the belts by heating the ends and welding the cord together to form a loop.  Takes a little practice, but the cord will stretch some.

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Here is a picture of the end clearance.  Now you know my brand of sauce.

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Details of the motor drive.  I tried hard couplings, but they made a lot of noise, and there was no break away.  The fuel hose drive coupling is cheap and flexible.  The tie wrap allows one to adjust the grip a little, better would be a spring hose clamp available at almost any auto parts store.

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So, all you need is drill, screwdriver, soldering iron, a little patience, and a little imagination.  Feel free to modify per your needs, and parts availability.


Bill of Materials and Source

Bearings about $14.00.

uxcell 4pcs KP08 8mm Bore Zinc Alloy Inner Ball Mounted Pillow Block Insert Bearing


Shafts about $13.00

CynKen 2pcs Outer Diameter 8mm x 400mm Cylinder Liner Rail Linear Shaft Optical Axis 45#steel Chrome plated


Motor about $16.00

Greartisan DC 12V 300RPM Gear Motor High Torque Electric Micro Speed Reduction Geared Motor Eccentric Output Shaft 37mm Diameter Gearbox


Motor Bracket about $4.00

uxcell GA/GB 37mm diameter DC Geared Motor Mounting Bracket Holder + 6mm Hex Coupling


Silicone Hose about $8.00, first layer

uxcell 8mm x 12mm Silicone Translucent Tube Water Air Pump Hose Pipe 1 Meter 3.3Ft Long


Optional Silicone Hose about $12.00, second layer will make drums turn faster

uxcell Silicone Tube 14mm ID X 20mm OD 3.3′ Flexible Silicone Rubber Tubing Water Air Hose Pipe Translucent for Pump Transfer


Wood Shelf about $8.00 24-inch x 8-inch

Any local hardware store, got mine at ACE Hardware

Kydex Plastic Sheet about $11.00

Plastics 2000 – KYDEX Sheet – 0.080″ Thick, Black, 8″ x 12″, 2 PACK


Power Supply about $11.00

110V-240V AC to 12V 5A 60W DC Converter Charger, with Car Cigarette Lighter Socket Output 12V 5A 60W Power Supply Adapter


Timing Pulleys about $7.00

uxcell Aluminum GT2 36 Teeth 8mm Bore Timing Belt Pulley Flange Synchronous Wheel for 3D Printer


Miscellaneous Small Parts

  1. 10 #10 Sheetmetal screws to hold bearings and Kydex guides to shelve.
  2. 1 foot of fuel line from auto parts (3/16” J30 R6 200517).
  3. 1 small tie wrap.
  4. 1-foot wire, red/black 18gauge. (depending on power supply, may be included).
  5. 2 rubber grommets to insulate motor bracket from shelve.
  6. Eat lots of applesauce.



Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, The Reloaders Network will receive an affiliate commission. This is being disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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