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Using a Vibratory Tumbler

Until recently I did all the cleaning and polishing of clock parts by  hand! This meant every small nut, screw and wheel was held in hand and polished with fine wire brush in a Dremel  miniature drill. It was tedious and painful trying to hold such small pieces. I therefore spent some time figuring out a better way to do it without damage to my ageing joints. After a few months of searching I found a company willing to let me trial a vibratory tumbler and some media. I had already discounted barrel tumblers of the type used to polish jem stones etc, as being too harsh in their action to be let loose on small and delicate Bulle and Eureka parts. But the vibratory tumbler looked a lot gentler in its action. Having spoken to the kind people at Sharmic who were helpful in discussing my needs, they suggested an Raytech AV18 tumbler and fine media such as walnut husk or crushed maize orb. After trying both I settled on Maize Orb which could be supplied in varying grades. I then needed to find a way of separating out the small parts from the maize after processing. I concluded that a fine mesh sieve with a grating of 1.18mm in combination with maize orb graded to pass through a 1.10mm sieve would be ideal, as the smallest part diameter is 1.5mm.

Raytech AV18 Vibratory Tumbler

I therefore purchased a 200mm diameter 1.18mm sieve from Glenammer Engineering, and the AV18 tumbler along with GM20 Maize orb from Sharmic. A stainless steel bowl was made to fit under the sieve and collect the orb after passing through the mesh. I was then ready for a trial.

I could see no reason to use any form of lubrication for the orb and so left it dry and filled the tumbler.  Because this was a trial I counted and photographed all the parts of a Bulle which I had just retrieved from the ultrasonic cleaner. If anything went missing then I would at least know exactly what I would be looking for. I switched on and watched the parts disappear into the orb. After a few seconds a cycle started to manifest itself as the parts both rotated vertically and horizontally in the bowl.

Glenammer Sieve

Sharmic - Walnut and Maize Orb