Ceramic media loging in parts

Avoiding Tumbling Media Lodging Issues

Picking out lodged tumbling media from parts can quickly turn into a daunting task. It’s time-consuming and, in some cases, extremely difficult to do. Most often, inexperience is to blame. But the good news is that there are ways to avoid such a nuisance.

Before starting the tumbling process, it’s important to consider two things.

First, do the parts that need cleaning to have holes or slots? Second, is the media small enough to become lodged in those places? These might be logical questions, but people tend to overlook them.

For example, cleaning brass shell casings with dry corn cob media will cause lodging issues. Corn cob will become lodged in the flash holes and primer pockets. But that won’t happen when tumbling the casings with quarter-inch steel rods and balls.

So, planning ahead and choosing the appropriate media size and the material will make the cleaning process run smoothly. When in doubt, measuring the holes and comparing them to the size of the media might help.

Tips for avoiding lodging

Tumbling media is an abrasive material that uses friction to clean or polish other materials. Logically, the constant grinding and rubbing of materials will cause media to wear out over time. As a result, it will decrease in size.

So, anticipating that possibility might aid in preventing lodging issues down the road. In other words, it’s vital to replace media that is close to the end of its life cycle. Sometimes, media that would otherwise not become lodged might do so because of a decrease in size due to friction.

abrasive media that match the size
abrasive media that match the size

However, lodging might happen even if parts don’t have problematic holes or indentations. That’s especially true when dealing with smaller-sized media. Sometimes, small media pieces will combine in such a way so as to become lodged, even if it seemed like they would move around freely.

parts separation from media
parts separation from media

For example, media that is half an inch in diameter will likely become lodged in a hole that is the same size. To avoid that issue, the media should be ⅓ the size of the potential lodging point or much larger.

Lodging and the shape of the media

The shape of the media can play an important role in preventing lodging. For example, plastic cone-shaped media is designed to prevent lodging. Similarly, lodging shouldn’t be a problem when cleaning parts with pyramid-shaped media, either. Cylindrical media should also pass through holes without problems.

tumbling media shape
tumbling media shape

In addition, nipple-shaped plastic media has a special design that allows it to freely enter deep holes and clean them without getting stuck.

But lodging issues are common with ceramic tumbling media. That’s because ceramic media is prone to chipping. So, loose chipped pieces often get stuck in holes and other small spaces.

On the other hand, steel media will basically never reduce in size during tumbling. It will keep its shape and size after every cleaning process because steel media is the toughest kind of media on the market. So, lodging issues with steel media practically don’t exist. Plus, steel is long-lasting and there is no need to replace it after only a couple of uses.