(Topic ID: 98683)

Tumbler, Ultrasonic, or both?


By UvulaBob

5 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 17 posts
  • 11 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by Bryan_Kelly
  • Topic is favorited by 4 Pinsiders

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    #1 5 years ago

    I'm going to to go the full Vid* and do a complete tear-down and restore of a Taxi, but first I need to buy some stuff.

    The first thing on my list is deciding between a tumbler, an ultrasonic cleaner or both. There've been lots of threads about which brands of which device to buy, but I'm still unclear about the function of either of these devices and what standards I should use when deciding to buy one.

    I know Vid likes the 18-pound wet/dry tumbler from Harbor Freight, and he's the only one I've seen actively endorse it. Vid, do you actually use it with wet media? Does that give you the same result as an ultrasonic cleaner? Also, you said the drum is really big. How big? Can you think of some parts that you're glad you were able to fit into that drum that you would have hated to clean by hand?

    If I can accomplish the same task with a wet-dry tumbler than with two separate devices (and in reduced time because of the larger drum size) then I think the decision's been made for me. Otherwise I'll need to learn more about what results I can expect if I purchase one and not the other.

    * I would also like to invoke the notion of the "full Whridlsoncestood" as well, but they say brevity is the soul of wit.

    #2 5 years ago

    Get both. They serve different purposes.

    #3 5 years ago

    I was afraid you'd say that. Is the 2.5 Liter cleaner worth the extra money over the smaller one? What about the 18-pound tumbler? That's almost twice as expensive as some of the Cabela's and Lyman's I can get on Amazon.

    #4 5 years ago

    Tumbler size mainly affects what you can fit into it. As far as I know they all get the job done depending on what media and additives you use. I eventually want to get one big one and two small ones.

    The ultrasonic cleaners seem to vary more. A cheap dinky little cleaner gives different results than a good quality unit.

    If you plan to do many restorations, get the best you can afford. It saves time in the long run. Welcome to the rabbit hole!

    #5 5 years ago

    If you want to restore - ultrasonic bath
    If you want bling - tumbler.

    #7 5 years ago

    I like instant gratification and speed of the restoration process. The ultrasonic provides both.
    Just started using the larger ultrasonic cleaner from Harbor Freight last week and I wonder how I ever got along without it.
    Took out an entire flipper assembly, sprayed it down with some degreaser to get most of the easy dirt off.
    Placed the entire part in the ultrasonic and in 3 min. had a brand new looking assembly. The tumbler may polish it up better, but requires days.

    #8 5 years ago

    The issue with a tumbler is it's not suitable for restoration work.

    A restoration is an attempt to put back to as close to original as possible. Polishing and shininess isn't part of that process.

    #9 5 years ago

    I bought the $35 eBay special and use walnut shells. Can't fit big stuff in it, only 1.85 qt., but I can fit 2 entire flipper assemblies with mounting plates. I had it running for 3 weeks straight swapping out and it didn't crap out. Gonna start doing another run for Centaur II soon. Yeah, it isn't as nice as being able to throw everything in there at once, but since I separate bags by part/section anyway, it helps keep things organized for those that haven't done dozens of restore jobs and you don't have to use as much medium.

    #10 5 years ago
    Quoted from abaxas:

    A restoration is an attempt to put back to as close to original as possible. Polishing and shininess isn't part of that process.

    Not to descend too much into semantics, but if making original components as clean and shiny as the day they came out of the factory doesn't fit into your definition of restoration, what does?

    #11 5 years ago
    Quoted from UvulaBob:

    The first thing on my list is deciding between a tumbler, an ultrasonic cleaner or both.

    Easy no-brainer response.
    Both, AND.
    Why both, AND?
    1) One is a cleaner. I got the one from HF and it's fine. I use it before ANY tumbling, to keep my media clean after each tumble.
    2) The other is a polisher. I got the one from HF, and my next one will be bigger, and I'll be happy to own two.
    I run almost everything through the cleaner. (unpainted plastics, all metal)
    I run just select stainless steel items through the tumbler to polish them up. (right now, I'm doing the handles/brackets that lift the playfield up...)
    3) AND pick up a bench buffer. This is great for larger parts or parts that only need 1 edge/side quickly polished (like a screw)

    -mof

    #12 5 years ago
    Quoted from UvulaBob:

    Not to descend too much into semantics, but if making original components as clean and shiny as the day they came out of the factory doesn't fit into your definition of restoration, what does?

    The point is they were not polished at the factory, clean yes but definitely not polished.

    #13 5 years ago

    Unless you happen to have a breakdown of what parts were and weren't shiny on the day they were put into the game, then I'm fine considering the work I'm doing as restoration work.

    #14 5 years ago
    Quoted from abaxas:

    The issue with a tumbler is it's not suitable for restoration work.
    A restoration is an attempt to put back to as close to original as possible. Polishing and shininess isn't part of that process.

    That really depends on the part in question. There are plenty of parts that came out of the factory shiny.

    #15 5 years ago
    Quoted from calvin12:

    The issue with a tumbler is it's not suitable for restoration work.
    A restoration is an attempt to put back to as close to original as possible. Polishing and shininess isn't part of that process.
    That really depends on the part in question. There are plenty of parts that came out of the factory shiny.

    I find this conversation a bit of splitting hairs relative to the other things which many of us do; reproduction playfields, plastics and backglasses come to mind. Then throw in a new cabinet and you have a reproduction rather than a restoration. Level of shine on an original part seems silly after all that.

    #16 5 years ago

    ultrasonic cleaner gets all the crap off stuff like coils, wires, etc. I use a 50/50 ratio of water to simple green in mine. Use an air compressor to blow dry all the parts after taking them from the ultrasonic cleaner and rinsing them. Then throw the dry metal parts in the tumbler to polish the metal parts.

    #17 5 years ago
    Quoted from planters49:

    ultrasonic cleaner gets all the crap off stuff like coils, wires, etc. I use a 50/50 ratio of water to simple green in mine. Use an air compressor to blow dry all the parts after taking them from the ultrasonic cleaner and rinsing them. Then throw the dry metal parts in the tumbler to polish the metal parts.

    Exactly. I just did all the coil mech assemblies and coils from a BSD this morning. Most of the metal parts clean up just fine. No need to tumble. However, if there is any corrosion or discoloration of any kind, the tumbler will make the parts look like new.

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