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Old 10-17-2017, 07:00 PM
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Default Is this the norm for tumbling?

Ok, this is my second batch of dug clad coins tumbled in a Harbor Freight tumbler. I am wondering if this is just the usual clean, or could it be better? Some coins came super shiny, spic-n-span clean. Most, however, are clean, but still pretty dark. None were shiny clean when they started. I accidentally ran 3 pennies with this batch. I used aquarium type gravel, a handful of sawdust, didn't have borax, so I used some Oxi-clean powder type stuff, a dash of Dawn, and a kicker of vinegar. Seems like too many ingredients, but I wanted to see everything shine. Total run time was about 4 hrs. They are more than clean enough for the bank machine, but I was expecting better. What's the deal here?
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Old 10-17-2017, 07:07 PM
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Normal results... I only use dish soap with aquarium gravel...

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Old 10-17-2017, 07:26 PM
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I use vinegar, salt, few squirts of lemon juice, aquarium gravel and just a touch a dish soap and only tumble them for an hour. I keep the tumblers only about half full. They come out really clean.

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Old 10-17-2017, 07:51 PM
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Yes, more vinegar will clean them better.
The dirtiest ones will just take more time.

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Old 10-17-2017, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Stiffwrists View post
They come out really clean.
Does "really clean" mean no dark ones? Less darkness than in the photo?
I will be ok with this, if the process is simplified, and shorter run time, but I was hoping for most of the coins to be shiny clean.
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Foragist View post
Does "really clean" mean no dark ones? Less darkness than in the photo?
I will be ok with this, if the process is simplified, and shorter run time, but I was hoping for most of the coins to be shiny clean.
This is the last batch I did. The half on the right are untumbled and the ones on the left had been tumbled for an hour. I've found they look the best when you add the lemon juice with the salt, vinegar and liquid soap (and aquarium gravel). I find that they need room to tumble so don't fill them up more than half way.
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:08 PM
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They look fine! I tumble mine with concrete aggregate (blue metal), some sand and water in a small cement mixer for about two hours. I've never used anything like vinegar, soap, lemon juice etc. Here is my latest tumble. They're not perfect, but the banks will have to accept them like this
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:39 AM
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Several good ideas for tumbling. If you use any cleaning agents stronger than dish soap make sure you keep the pennies separate..

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Old 10-18-2017, 08:00 AM
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The best method I've found so far is aquarium gravel, a bit of dawn dish detergent and a splash of ammonia, tumble for about 7 or 8 hours and even the dirtiest coins come out very clean.

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Old 10-18-2017, 11:00 AM
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Thank you for the replies, people. Stiffwrists' recipe looks like it is doing the job right, in about an hour of tumble time. Those are the type of results I read about before I got the tumbler. So, Stiffwrists, do you use any water at all?
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Old 10-18-2017, 11:29 AM
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I just use soap, gravel and tumble 4-8 hrs. They always come out clean enough to pass through the coinstar and really that is all I am looking for. One thing that I do if I want to get them a little cleaner is to change out the water about half way through to get rid of the worst of the dirt and then continue to tumble. Only takes about 5 minutes but does make a good bit of difference.

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Old 10-18-2017, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Foragist View post
Thank you for the replies, people. Stiffwrists' recipe looks like it is doing the job right, in about an hour of tumble time. Those are the type of results I read about before I got the tumbler. So, Stiffwrists, do you use any water at all?
No water at all. A handful of clad, enough aquarium gravel to fill the container half full. Then about 3 table spoons of salt, pour vinegar over it all until It just covers the gravel. 3 good squirts of lemon juice and a few drops of dish soap. Tumble for an hour or so. DO NOT add any pennies. (I will say that they come out clean, not exactly "shiny") If you were to get one in circulation you might think it looks a little off. You will know what I mean when you try it out. Let me know what you think. I will post a pic of a tumbled quarter next to a brand new shiny quarter later.

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Old 10-18-2017, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Stiffwrists View post
No water at all. A handful of clad, enough aquarium gravel to fill the container half full. Then about 3 table spoons of salt, pour vinegar over it all until It just covers the gravel. 3 good squirts of lemon juice and a few drops of dish soap. Tumble for an hour or so. DO NOT add any pennies. (I will say that they come out clean, not exactly "shiny") If you were to get one in circulation you might think it looks a little off. You will know what I mean when you try it out. Let me know what you think. I will post a pic of a tumbled quarter next to a brand new shiny quarter later.
Thank you for writing all this up! I will be trying this on my next batch.
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Old 10-20-2017, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Stiffwrists View post
No water at all. A handful of clad, enough aquarium gravel to fill the container half full. Then about 3 table spoons of salt, pour vinegar over it all until It just covers the gravel. 3 good squirts of lemon juice and a few drops of dish soap. Tumble for an hour or so. DO NOT add any pennies. (I will say that they come out clean, not exactly "shiny") If you were to get one in circulation you might think it looks a little off. You will know what I mean when you try it out. Let me know what you think. I will post a pic of a tumbled quarter next to a brand new shiny quarter later.

....with this formula, dirty clad coins will come out with a dull gray steel color. If you want natural looking coins to come out of the tumbler, you can't use acidic solutions, use gravel, soap and wetting agents such as the aquarium gravel, dawn dish soap, and borax. It takes longer to do the job because there is no acid to strip the oxides off the coins. The gravel has to do that job.
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Old 10-20-2017, 09:18 PM
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Skip the saw dust , don't need it.

Vinegar is an acid , and any soap or ammonia you put in there is a base , so its practically cancelling the vinegar out....skip the vinegar , don't need it.

Vinegar or acid alone often gives the edges of the clad a strange pink color as the acid reacts with the copper layer. When I did it that way I had a store clerk refuse some of them.

I just use fish gravel and ammonia with a little water. Soap works almost as good as ammonia but I get the best results with ammonia. Except for a few random ones most of my clad comes out like new.

If you check them and they don't look as shiny as you like , just tumble them a little longer.

Rinse them well afterward.

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Old 10-21-2017, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by BufordCityDawg View post
I just use soap, gravel and tumble 4-8 hrs. They always come out clean enough to pass through the coinstar and really that is all I am looking for. One thing that I do if I want to get them a little cleaner is to change out the water about half way through to get rid of the worst of the dirt and then continue to tumble. Only takes about 5 minutes but does make a good bit of difference.

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Old 10-22-2017, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by ohiochris View post

Vinegar or acid alone often gives the edges of the clad a strange pink color as the acid reacts with the copper layer. When I did it that way I had a store clerk refuse some of them..
This is true. Sometimes the edges of the clad get a kinda strange pink color to them. Although I've never had a store clerk refuse any of them. They must have been very detail oriented! Did they think you were trying to pass counterfeit quarters and dimes? Haha

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Old 10-22-2017, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Stiffwrists View post
This is true. Sometimes the edges of the clad get a kinda strange pink color to them. Although I've never had a store clerk refuse any of them. They must have been very detail oriented! Did they think you were trying to pass counterfeit quarters and dimes? Haha


I guess that was the concern. I didn't think they looked bad enough to be rejected but they did look odd compared to most change , if I worked with money I would probably reject them too. Better to just clean them a different way and avoid something like that.

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Old 10-23-2017, 02:51 AM
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Looks good to me! I use water, small gravel and a handful of stainless steel screws.

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Old 10-25-2017, 12:31 PM
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I tumble mine for an hour in soap and water then put them in a salt/vinegar mix and after stirring for a few minutes tumble them again for 90 minutes, They come out pretty nice except for a few that are really rusty. Coin machines take them all with no rejects
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