- Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 22:06
- Written by Christine
Harbor Freight Chicago Electric Dual Drum Rotary Rock/Shell Tumbler Review
I was looking for a less expensive, yet still effective way to clean my shell casings for reloading. Many people know, or believe, that Harbor Freight electrical products are usually hit or miss. By this I mean that sometimes you may get a product that is pretty dang good and sometimes you may get a product that is much less than acceptable.
Though I knew the history of Harbor Freight electrical products I was willing to give this product a try because it was cheap enough and had decent reviews. I figured by the reviews I knew what to look for and I knew how to deal with some of the minor issues that may arise with this tumbler. Add to that the fact that I had one of those 20% off coupons and it was on sale it was just too good a price to not take the chance.
So with coupon in hand I took the plunge, went to Harbor Freight and purchased the dual drum rotory tumber that I planned to use as a shell casing tumbler to clean my shell casings before reloading.
Some of the previous review mentioned that the rotory tumbler would burn out quickly after just a few uses and others said that the belts would easily break and end up causing damage to the tumbler. Suggestions to these problems included making sure to oil the tumbler in key area after each use or at least every couple of uses. It was also suggested to make sure and check the belts before and after each use. Harbor Freight includes several extra belts with the tumbler so they obviously know this can be an issue.
The first time I used the tumble I used the instuctions that my son-in-law had told me to clean shell casing with the vibrator he had. Figured it couldn't be too different - it needed shell casings and cracked walnut shells added to the drum and perhaps a little piece of cloth to attact some of the dirt and oils so the walnut shells can be reused longer. Seemed easy enough. I did as instructed, plug in the rotory tumbler and off it went to tumbling. Then I waited and waited and waited. After six hours I checked and the shell casings still looked pretty much the same. After 12 hours I checked again and they looked a little better but surely not as I had seen from other peoples cleaned shell casings.
After 18 hours I just turned it off and decided that perhaps I had wasted my money because though they looked a little better the shell casings hardly looked clean and shiney.
I did a little research and used a couple of other methods for cleaning my shell casings that did not include a tumbler or a vibrater. But I just didn't like the results of those either. So back to the drawing board I went. It was when I was watching a youtube video of a fellow subcriber, dwilite, that I caught a tip to add just a drop of Nu Finish car polish into each drum before tumbling.
I figured, what the heck I had nothing to lose since I would waste another 18 hours of tumbling without changing something in the way that I cleaning the shell casings. Wow! what an amazing transformation these shells had made after just 6 hours of tumbling. It probably didn't even need that long but that is how long it was before I checked them and then sifted them through a collindar to separate the shell casings from the walnut shells. This time they were shiny and looked like new. The transformation was like I had seen in other peoples videos that used expensive shell casing tumblers/vibrators.
Being pleased with the results of that batch, I did the quick recommended maintenance on the tumbler and started another batch to tumbling. They came out just as shiney as the last batch and as we speak I have yet another batch tumbling away.
So would I purhase another one of these Harbor Freight dual rotary rock tumblers again in the future. At this point yes. I have had the tumbler for about 4 months now and have cleaned several batches of shell casings with results that I was very pleased with.
I have not had any of the problems with the tumbler that were reported by other people but that could be due to the fact that I was aware of them in advance and have taken steps to preventing the issues from occuring.
All in all I would give this tumbler a 4 out of 5 stars. I took away one star because of the fact that I do have to do the pre-tumbling maintenance which, as far as I know, does not have to be done with some of the other tumblers/vibrators used for cleaning shell casing.