DIY Bucket Tumbler

jbolt

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I needed to tumble some parts that are larger than will fit in my vibratory tumbler so not wanting to re-invent the wheel a quick search of the interweb showed some examples of rotary tumblers made from 5 gallon buckets.

The goal was to use materials I had on hand and buy as little as possible.

For the frame I had some 8020 left over from a project where 8020 sent me cut to order lengths that were too short and I still had some corner brackets from my 3D printer build. While digging through a box of old casters looking for matched pairs I found a box of skate wheels, perfect! I cannot remember when or why I had them.

For the motor my first thought was to use an old 1/2 hp motor off a drill press but to get from 1720 rpm to 30 was more than I wanted to tackle right now so I ordered a cheap 12v windshield wiper motor for $30. Slow speed is about 46 rpm so close enough for now. The motor shaft has a tapered spline. For the drive arm I used some 1" x 1/4" aluminum bar. To fit to the spline I first drilled a hole the size for the threaded part of the shaft and then counter drilled about a 1/16" deep the diameter of about 1/3 up the taper. Once bolted the the shaft the splines dig into the aluminum enough to make a solid connection.

The drive bar has two 1/4" steel dowel pins pressed in 3" from center. Bolted to the bottom of the drive bucket is another 1" x 1/4 aluminum bar with 5/16" slots. This gives enough play so alignment is not super critical. The drive bucket just sits on the skate wheels. The motor mount was a scrap piece of 4" x 1/4" aluminum.

The tumbler is a separate bucket with a screw-on lid. The screw-on lid was my only other purchase for $8. For the agitators inside the tumbler bucket I used some plastic quarter round molding siliconed and screwed to the inside. The tumbler bucket fits inside the drive bucket. I did have to add some strips of foam weather stripping to the inside of the drive bucket otherwise the tumbler bucket wouldn't grip the drive bucket and just slip.

Power is provided by an old Radio Shack 10 amp 12 volt power supply that must be 40 years old now. Don't make them like that anymore.

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Here is one of the parts that is perfectly de-burred with the mat finish I need for powder coating. This took only 1 hour where as smaller parts in my vibrating tumbler can take 4-6 hours. Tumbling media is the plastic triangles from HF with a splash of 409 cleaner.

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Latinrascalrg1

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I like how you Have a "Drive" Bucket and a "Materials" bucket, that will really prolong the tools usefulness for sure.
If you would not mind sharing, What abrasive media did you use in order to get the finish you did on the part on the pic you posted?
 

jbolt

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I like how you Have a "Drive" Bucket and a "Materials" bucket, that will really prolong the tools usefulness for sure.
If you would not mind sharing, What abrasive media did you use in order to get the finish you did on the part on the pic you posted?
I cant take credit for the bucket in a bucket. Poached that idea from someone else. Media is the green plastic triangles from Harbor Freight.
 

cbellanca

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Nice job. I tried to use my Lyman case tumbler with no real success. Yours looks like the real thing.
 

Deadwood Dick

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You could also use stainless steel pins from Guntap. No affiliation with them other than I use them to tumble very dirty brass shell casings.
Works great in about a hour and they come out clean inside and outside with a matte finish.
DD
 

jbolt

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Very ingenious. Gotta love 80/20 materials!

Does the taper of the bucket keep it from walking or do you need to use a stop?
It needs a stop. I used on of the plastic containers the tumbling media came in filled with water to keep it in place. I think if the wheels were angled a certain way it could be avoided but this was a quick and dirty build.
 

Asbestos

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does the taper of the bucket cause any issues,? I like the build, I was wondering if one of these might work or if the ribs would be too much. It's a foolish contraption they sell for mixing concrete that IMO is about 20% more work than a wheelbarrow. But I see them at garage sales all the time for $5 or less 286512
 

Latinrascalrg1

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It needs a stop. I used on of the plastic containers the tumbling media came in filled with water to keep it in place. I think if the wheels were angled a certain way it could be avoided but this was a quick and dirty build.
So you placed a bucket of water in front of the tumbler to keep the material buckets on the rotisserie, correct? If yes would it be possible to place a block of wood or something under the front cross member so that the buckets sit at an angle with the buckets somewhat resting on the turning mechanism using gravity to hold them in place?
 

jbolt

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So you placed a bucket of water in front of the tumbler to keep the material buckets on the rotisserie, correct? If yes would it be possible to place a block of wood or something under the front cross member so that the buckets sit at an angle with the buckets somewhat resting on the turning mechanism using gravity to hold them in place?
The front is raised by about an inch but not enough to keep the drive engaged. I wanted to keep the bottom of the bucket as level as possible so parts don't clump together at the bottom. If I was using more often I would put some form of a stop in front.
 
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