A little over a year ago , my wife was looking for a rock tumbler to use for her polymer clay crafting stuff. We hadn’t gotten into rocks yet, but I figured we could tumble some rocks anyway. I had a rock polisher when I was a kid, and it wasn’t much more than a plastic mayonaise jar sitting on some rollers turned by a motor. How hard can that be? I was surprised at how expensive rock tumblers were.
I found that Harbor Freight had a couple rock tumblers, a single barrel model and one with a double barrel. Both were Chicago Electric brand which I think is Harbor Freights brand name. I bought the double barrel one for about $30. They asked if I wanted to buy the extended warranty, and I said no. But I had a week to come back and buy it if I wanted it.
I brought it home and my wife started polishing some of the polymer clay beads, and the belt broke within a day or two. I did a search and found this was normal with these Chicago Electric rock tumblers. I returned the tumbler, got another one, and bought the extended warranty for like $10 for 2 years.
This time the belt lasted for a week. I read that many people used sewing machine belts. So I went and bought a sewing machine belt. This lasted about a week.
One thing I tried was to make sure the pulleys were aligned to cause minimal wear. I also left the metal cover that hides the motor off, so it would get better air flow.
We started using rubber bands as belts. These lasted as long as the actual belts, and they were cheaper! A rubber band would last usually about 3-4 days. We used the tumbler to polish polymer clay beads and shells. And we were starting to use it more for polishing rocks now also.
A year and 2 days after I bought the the first one, the motor pulley disintigrated. I had bought the extended warranty so I was covered! I took it back planning to exchange it for a new one. I was thinking that when this thing finally died and was no longer covered or cheaply repaired, I would buy a Lortone or another quality rock tumbler. When I brought it in, and told the girl it died, she asked if I wanted a replacement or a refund. I said I can get a refund? She said yeah. Heck yeah! I took the refund! I got my money back for the tumbler and the extended warranty and everything! About $40 in all! I was happy to be rid of the cheap piece of junk. I started shopping for a Lortone rock tumbler!