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Industrial vs Standard UV-18 Vibratory Tumblers

Use caution if you see a Thumler's UV-18 tumbler offered at an extremely low price. Thumler's Tumblers produces two different versions which have very different prices. There is an industrial UV-18, which is what we sell, designed for heavy-duty work such as rock tumbling and metal deburring. They also make a standard version that is designed for light-duty work like brass cleaning in corncob or walnut shell media. Because they are designed for very different work loads, their components and prices are significantly different. Knowing how to tell them apart will save you from purchasing the wrong machine that may not work for your needs.

UV-18 Industrial and standard vibratory tumblers
Shown here are an industrial UV-18 (left) and a standard UV-18 (right). Having both versions side by side makes it easy to tell them apart. But, most of the time you will only see one at a time, so knowing how to tell them apart is key to getting the one you need.

Are the Bowls Different?

Yes, and the colored stripe on the bowl tells you which tumbler the bowl was designed for. The blue striped bowl is for the industrial version, and the yellow striped bowl is for the standard version. The two bowls are the same size, but their wall thickness is very different. The blue striped bowl designed for the industrial version is much thicker than the standard bowl. Why? It will have heavy, sharp, angular rocks and grit wearing at it during operation. If it was as thin as the standard bowl, it would need to be replaced more often than it does with the thicker walls.

NOTE: Do not rely on the bowl stripe color when purchasing a used UV-18 tumbler. Look at all the components of the tumbler so you can be confident that you are getting the machine you need.

UV-18 industrial and standard center post comparison

Are the Center Posts the Same?

No, the industrial tumbler's center post has a 3/8 inch diameter, while the standard version's center post is only 1/4 inch diameter. This means that the washers, wing nut, bowl nut and holes in the lid and bowl are larger for the industrial version. The larger center post is needed to handle the heavier weight and stress generated during operation.

UV-18 industrial and standard motors

Are the Motors Different?

Yes, the industrial version's motor is larger, has a heavier counterweight, and attaches to the base plate differently. Knowing how to tell the machines apart by the motor is easy and a sure way to know which tumbler you are looking at.

The industrial UV-18 motor is black and the standard version motor is red. The counterweight for the industrial version is three metal weights welded together. It is held in place with an allen screw that goes into the end of the motor shaft. On the standard version the counterweight slides over the motor shaft and is held in place by a set screw.

An easy way to tell which one you are looking at is to see how the motor is mounted to the base plate. If you see two mounting brackets coming off the end of the motor and attaching to the base plate you are looking at the standard model. The industrial version is secured by a metal plate on each end of the motor and four threaded rods going through those metal plates and the tumbler base plate. As you can tell from the photo, the industrial version's motor looks like it is in a metal crate. The extra strength and stability is needed to handle the vibrations and stress created by the heavy counterweight.

We do not sell motors, motor brackets or the center rods for the UV-18 industrial version. The manufacturer wants to replace those parts for customers. If they are not installed properly, it can cause major problems with the machine.

UV-18 industrial and standard springs

Are the Springs Different?

The UV-18 industrial tumbler has larger and longer springs than the standard version. Why? When the industrial version is fully loaded with rocks and grit, it will weigh more than 18 pounds. Much more than the standard version running dry media with jewelry or brass casings. The larger springs are needed to handle the vibrations and stress when the tumbler is in operation.

The easiest way to tell which one you are looking at is to measure the distance between the bottom lip of the base plate and the top of the base. The industrial version has a gap of about 2 1/8 inches, and the standard version will have only about a 7/8 inch gap.

Are Any Components the Same?

Yes, both versions of the UV-18 vibratory tumbler have the same feet, metal base, base plate and foam pads.

Operation and Maintenance Tips

Visit our Thumler's vibratory tumbler guide for tips on how to operate and maintain your industrial UV-18 tumbler.

Happy Tumbling! Authors

Hobart King Hobart M. King has decades of rock tumbling experience and writes most of the articles on He has a PhD in geology and is a GIA graduate gemologist. He also writes the articles about rocks, minerals and gems on