Post by Harry Conover Post by Michael Newton
Well, I looked around all over the web to see what types of ball mills
were available. Basically, all of the "ball mills" I could find online
are actually just rock tumblers for lapidary work. As far as I can
tell nobody makes a "ball mill" for under $500.00, and they go way,
way up from there. So, I ordered the large 15 lb. model from Firefox.
It's a heavy-duty industrial Thumler's rock tumbler with a hexagonal
watertight steel barrel and a removable rubber lining. For media I
think I'll try to pick up some .50 caliber lead/antimony balls from a
I may never grind up 15 lbs. of black powder, but I've always wanted
to try polishing some of the rocks we've picked up in the deserts over
the years. We've got hundreds of pounds of jasper, quartz, etc.,
stored away in the shop. Maybe I'll make my wife some jewelry or
Anyone that has, or has used, one of these units is invited to send me
comments about their experience, good or bad.
Now I guess I have to decide which method I'm going to use for making
some BP. Which is the easier route, the CIA method or pressing? Which
is safer? Which do you prefer and why?
Sounds like you've made a good choice, although I haven't seen the
unit in person. If you have the time, post a review of it on the
Plan to locate it somewhere remote from you home and operate the unit
by remote control for BP and other pyro, AND remote control for rock
polishing as well.
I've used similar hex tumbers in industry and I can assure you that
these units are extremely noisy (even the rubber lined units) in
operation, so you won't want it within 100 feet or so from your home
when it runs overnight! :-)
My suggestion is that you either build a box or shed with some
acoustic treatment in which it will live. Just bury some type NM-B
12-2 or 10-2 (with ground) to power it (depending on how much current
it draws) and you'll be all set and able to sleep at night. Consider
purchasing a completed garden shed, which in addition to housing the
mill will be useful in storing chemicals as well. If large enough, you
could even use it as your pyro work area.
It's funny you should suggest a garden shed. My wife and I have
recently been talking about buying or maybe building one. Originally I
wanted to build a separate garage/shop down the hill a bit from our
home. Something to keep my boat in and as well as all the stuff that's
currently in our garage. But, the wife said that has to wait a while.
So I suggested that we either buy or build a garden shed. Wonder of
wonders, she actually said yes (probably because she is into the
gardening thing.) Now the problem is that I live in Oregon and it
started raining a few days ago. Around here that usually lasts
anywhere from 9 to 12 months, or sometimes even longer. Now, I'm a
native Oregonian so I don't even notice the rain, but the hired help
(wife) is a native Californian and she does notice.. and complains..
and whines.. and pouts.. It's really tough to get any work done when
you have to beat the help to get them to do anything, ya know?
Seriously, I really appreciate your comments and suggestions. Would
you care to comment on something else I've recently come across? Since
I ordered a ball mill I've been looking around for grinding media to
use in it. I found a little tidbit on Skylighter's web site by a
person named Spike Tharp. He said that he uses coins, 12 quarters and
20 nickels to be exact, for milling black powder. Have you ever tried
coins? It seems to me that quarters and nickels just wouldn't be heavy
enough to work well in a ball mill. I suppose it should work okay, but
I'd think that it would be much slower than using lead/antimony balls.
And besides, who knows what they're making quarters and nickels out of