Monday, April 25, 2016

Product Review: Harbour Freight 5lb Vibratory Tumbler

I had to look through my old posts to find my last product review and it has been a while!  I guess the fewer items I need to buy, the luckier I should consider myself as I must be well stocked for tools and chemicals, oils, etc.  

This is what happens when you never throw anything away and hoard all the tools you can find!
If I spend enough time looking though, I can always find something that would make my life easier.

This is certainly the case with the vibratory tumbler (not an obscene device as the name would imply!) from Harbour Freight.  

These come in two varieties, 18lb capacity and 5lb;  essentially a plastic bowl (mounted on springs) that is vibrated by a 12 volt motor underneath.  The idea is that you add media (walnut shells, plastic beads, etc) to the bowl, then your items will be cleaned off by the friction created.

I have been considering one of these for some time; with the sheer volume of rusty hardware that came with the Matchless project, consideration became necessity.  

I did attempt to find one of these locally with no luck and was disappointed with the other options.  The prices I did find were in the 150.00 CDN range before shipping and taxes.  

The sale at Harbour Freight ($53.99 on sale from $99) warranted a cross border trip, despite the weak dollar.   As far as media, fine walnut shells seemed like the best option to start with. 

My first mistake was to not read the instructions.  It is important for best results to add your media first (two thirds of the bowl should be filled) then add your items for cleaning.  The total weight including media should not exceed 5 lbs otherwise cleaning takes a while.  My first run was probably 7 hours, the pictures are below.

Before;  Make to add your items after adding the media

Here are the after results;  some of the items had to be thrown back in for more work, this was the best fo the lot.

Overall, the initial results were impressive and after washing off the film left by the walnut shell oil I was even happier.  I then used the wire brush attachment on the drill to remove bits of shell from the threads. 

 Not entirely effort free but a tremendous time saver.  The machine seems to run very smoothly and I have had mine on for nearly a week continuously without issue.  While at work or even asleep, the work can continue without me!  

Once I have experimented with other media I will post the results here.  I hope to find something that will remove paint and rust a little quicker than the fine shells do.  

I am going to go as far as calling this an essential bit of kit for someone who does a lot of restoration work.  For the money (especially the current price) you can't really go wrong. 

Don't surprised to read a review for the 18lb model sometime in the future.

Next time:  Project updates,  VW, Matchless and Triumph! 

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