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#288672 - 07/19/05 11:33 PM How to build a fur tumbler
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
These first few shots give you an overall view of what were dealing with here. The front legs of the frame (right side) I made two inches longer then the rear to keep the drum from walking off the rollers. As you can see I set a block under the rear afterwards because two inches was too much. You'll be able to get by with an inch difference, still keeping the drum on the rollers and get good grit circulation both.
I used 3/4 inch I.D. square tubing for my frame and layed it out to fit the width of my drum. Drums may vary so you'll need to adjust accordingly. I made my overall frame 12 inches wider then the drum and then moved the axles in 8 inches on each side to cradle the drum.

Below is a top shot of the frame itself. Spacing of the bearing and frame cross members aren't real critical. I wanted three drive wheels on each side, and the frame just a few inches longer then the drum. So I spaced it out accordingly. If you can't get a drum with perfectly straight sides as I use, then you'll need to locate the roller wheels so that they will come in contact with the drum at all times. Tapered side drums, you may have to move the two end rollers inward on each side.
I used 1/2 inch cold roll for the axles and bushing style pillow bearings on each cross member of the frame to support the axles. If I could change anything, it would be to go with the roller type pillow bearings over the bushing style.
You'll notice another smaller shaft in the center of the frame to the left. This was going to be my idler pulley shaft incase I needed to gear it down for a slower rotation. I ended up not even needing it.

Next is a close up of the pillow bearings and the roller wheels. I drilled through the shaft hole on the rollers and the drive axles, and then cotter pinned the rollers to the axle.

Below is a end shot of the frame. I put a pulley on the end of each drive axle, opposite end of the motor, and put a belt out there to put power to both axles insync.

In this next shot you'll notice a small black wheel towards the top of the photo, right above the idle shaft. I put that directly in the middle of the frame end and adjusted it to the right height so that the outter rim on the end of the drum rides against it at all times. Remember the legs for the frame are an inch shorter on one end then the other to keep the drum from walking off the rollers. The wheel holds the drum in place so it don't walk off the other way.

The two shots below show the motor and pulley set up. The motor is mounted under the frame itself.
My motor has a 1/2 inch shaft that produces 1725 rpms at the shaft. I put a 3/4 inch pulley on that shaft, and decided to go with a 15 inch up on the drive axle. (The one directly above the motor in the photo) This worked out perfect giving me approx. 35 rotations per minute AT THE DRUM.
The pulley to the left in the first photo is on the idler shaft that we showed above, but wasn't needed. Behind the 15 pulley there, I used another 3/4 pulley on the same shaft which was going to be belted to the first 15 inch pulley and then back to reduce speed. But it was never needed.
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#288673 - 07/19/05 11:33 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
Next is the drum. You'll need a drum with a removable lid like in the photo below. It's tough to see here but this lid has a 2inch lip that actually fits inside the drum itself, and that lines up the two rims, the one on the lid and the one on the drum.
The cam lever locking band allows both rims to fit into it, locking the drum lid in place.

The shot below shows how I installed baffles in my drum. Baffles help lift the hide/s and the grit to prevent them from sliding and riding the bottom all the time because of the slow rotation.
These were 1x4's simply caulked on one edge, and screwed through the sides of the drum.
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#288674 - 07/20/05 06:40 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
Mavrick10_2000 Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 01/31/05
Posts: 372
Loc: Oklahoma
RiverRunner,

I'm new to the fur aspect of predator hunting, but what purpose does the tumbler serve? Is that in preparation for tanning?

Just curious.
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Bob Be Safe. Good Shooting! Former United States Marine NRA Life Member

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#288675 - 07/20/05 07:24 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: Mavrick10_2000]
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
Mavrick,
Tumblers help to break the hide (soften it) as it dries.
Ever buy a new pair of leather shoes that make your feet hurt because they don't flex enough when you walk?
Tanned skins dry the same way, stiff... if they aren't broken as they dry.
The tumbling effect does basically the same thing wearing in your shoes does.

Tumblers are also used to buff the skin and clean the fur. Surely you've noticed the velvety suede look on the inside of a pair of leather gloves. Adding grit or hardwood saw dust to the tumblers buffs the skin and cleans the fur at the same time.
Treated additives are available to add to the saw dust and when tumbled make even the thickest matted fur, shiny and fluffy when they are done....well...all except a bear hide that is covered with tree sap.
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#288676 - 07/21/05 11:52 AM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
Mavrick10_2000 Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 01/31/05
Posts: 372
Loc: Oklahoma
RiverRunner,

Thanks. That's great information. I'll bet it's a real treat trying to get the SAP out of bear fur. But at least it hurts less than a surprising clump of Sand Burrs in your hand when checking a coyote.
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Bob Be Safe. Good Shooting! Former United States Marine NRA Life Member

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#288677 - 08/30/05 11:39 AM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: Mavrick10_2000]
mmwb Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/03/04
Posts: 34
Loc: Wyoming
Great tumbler. I've known a few guys that have converted old driers to tumblers. Riverrunner, I'd wondered how well they dry, as they break, in the tumbler. It seems well sealed--which would keep the moisture level high. Does the sawdust absorb most of the moisture out of the hide, or does most of the drying take place after the hide was removed? I would think that if that were the case, that you'd have to continue to break it as it dried. Look forward to the response.
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#288678 - 09/25/05 05:22 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: mmwb]
gundog870 Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 319
Loc: Iowa
how much $ did it take to put that together
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Gundog The Beast is Dead long live the BEAST~~~~Nuge

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#288679 - 09/25/05 09:53 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: gundog870]
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
mmwb I not only missed your post...I missed it for almost a month. Sorry bout that
To answer your question, I use the tumbler to finish breaking the hide, buff the leather, and clean the fur.

My process is like this;
I hang the hides to dry and hand break them a little each day.
Once they are say, 75% dry, they go into a dryer type tumbler for roughly 4 hours with no grit to maximize the breaking.
When they come out of that, they are hung to finish drying which usually only takes a good day or so.
Once they are totally dry, or at least 95%, they go into the tumbler above with hardwood sawdust for another 4 hours or so. This cleans the fur, buffs the leather, and finalizes the breaking one last time with the saw dust pounding it as it tumbles. It will (yes) dry it a little more but the hide should be pretty well dried before it goes in or it would make a gummy mess.

After this they go back into the dryer tumbler which tumbles out any sawdust, and fluffs them before getting returned to the customer.

gundog870 , The actual barrel was given to me by a friend, the motor I pulled off an old squirrel cage blower just to test things and it worked fine so I kept it. With everything else being purchased, I had just over a hundred bucks in it. I think probably $120.
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#288680 - 02/07/06 01:47 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
StuDaBaka Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 295
Loc: Midland, NC
Mr Riddel steered me away from a small diameter tumbler saying that he felt you didn't get enough drop. He was recommending a 6' diameter design. I assume you are having good success with yours.....which seems pretty slick.
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Stu

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#288681 - 02/07/06 07:43 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: StuDaBaka]
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
I do have great results with it Stu, but Bruce is right. Larger diameter tumblers will do a much better job in less then half the time.

I only use mine for varmints, anything larger like deer, or bear is a total waste of time. The hide just rolls inside.

I'm in the process of building another one. This one is most likely going to be made from a 9 foot diameter under ground, plastic septic tank. I've been running it through my head.
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#288682 - 02/07/06 08:01 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
RanUtah Offline
Retired PM Staff

Registered: 04/23/01
Posts: 5278
Loc: Taylorsville, Utah, and Manage...
Great piece Jim! I'll take 3, please giftwrap one!
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#288683 - 02/07/06 08:48 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
StuDaBaka Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 295
Loc: Midland, NC
Sounds like a neat project.....assuming it's not used!

I have to say again that the information you have/are providing around fur handling is really excellent and very much appreciated. Do you offer apprenticeships?
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Stu

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#288684 - 02/07/06 09:01 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: StuDaBaka]
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
LOL....sometimes Stu, I wish I could get more hands.
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#288685 - 02/21/06 08:53 PM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: River Runner]
bonehead.223 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/13/05
Posts: 39
Loc: belmont, ohio
do you have any problem with hair pulling or getting torn
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god created all men equal,jus made hunters a lil more advanced
email: tex_at_ranch@yahoo.com

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#288686 - 02/24/06 12:59 AM Re: How to build a fur tumbler [Re: bonehead.223]
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
In the tumbler, bonehead? No never have had a bit of trouble.
There's really nothing in there that can grab anything that hard. It's all just a tumbling motion.
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