The distinctive looking and striking red Thumlers Tumbler A-R1 model has been going for many years. Incredibly simple in design it is a no-frills “does the job” machine which is has a solid reputation based on thousands of users around the world. It is 15.8 x 12.6 x 5.1 inches in size.
When talking “Thumlers A-R1” you are referring to a quality product which will perform for years and by far out perform the starter kits. This is frequently supplied with a few packets of grit and polish and some rocks and jewelry findings to kick the hobby into gear, although with equipment like this it won’t be long before you are trekking over to the hobby shops to get more supplies to feed the growing addiction!
Many well known (in lapidary circles that is!) traders and jewelers use Thumlers as a make in general and often have the A-R1 in their arsenal of machines. This is by no means a childs toy and is used by experts to produce high quality and high gloss finished semi-precious gemstones for re-sale and collectors.
The 3lb barrel is a standard size of cylinder found across many tumbler types and enables a good volume of mixed size gems. It is made of rubber to keep noise to a minimum (and is effective) and has a press on lid which is then sealed with a rubber ring around the top – a clever method in our view.
Thumlers A-R1 Rock Tumbler Pros and Cons
- The Thumlers A-R1 has a 3lb barrel for larger batches of stone.
- Extras and spare parts for the actual tumbler are readily available although the parts are tough (including the barrels which will last for months of constant tumbling before either the lids or body of the barrel needs replacing).
- The availability of extras means the owner can have specialized barrels reserved for different grit grades and polish – or if budget permits – even have barrels for a given type of rock to keep things extremely free of contaminants. For example, a barrel could be used for 80 grit amethyst only – meaning other (softer) rocks will be protected from any minute leftovers. This is for more specialized operations though.
- Telephone support is available although the internet is so packed with Thumler users you can easily join an online forum and talk through any questions which may arise.
- This tumbler is the business – whilst obviously from time to time there will be faulty units shipped, this is rare and the company will replace whilst under warranty.
- Some people moan about the barrels wearing out. Be under no illusions – they do – but they last a long time and a tonne of batches and when you grind silicon carbide against anything it will almost always win in the long run. It largely depends on how you use the barrels as to how quickly they wear out. If you retain one for 80 grade only, then naturally this will wear out a LOT faster than the barrel which is dedicated to polish. Its swings and roundabouts.
- Some rocks “gas” when they are a work in progress. This can build up as pressure inside the barrel. Again, there are moaners who complain about everything out there and this has absolutely nothing to do with the model tumbler. A very effective workaround for this problem (which is not specific to any make of tumbler as we say) is actually available using thumlers in particular. Filling the batch with steaming water and then sealing it will create a vacuum inside the barrel, sucking the lid firmly into place and allowing for some expansion during the process, this prevents the lid blowing off and messing up the batch.
In summary we highly recommend the Thumlers A-R1 as a tumbler which will perform well for years and provide jewelry grade/standard gems when used as directed