Cleaning clad coins and pennies.....Method A or Method B?
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  1. #1
    Jan 2014
    Newton, NC
    XP Deus
    2002 times
    Metal Detecting

    Cleaning clad coins and pennies.....Method A or Method B?

    I bought a two drum rock polisher from Harbor Freight for the purpose of cleaning up my clad and especially my found wheat pennies. I asked two friends what method they used to clean their clad and pennies. Here are their responses.

    Method A- Fill both drums approximately 1/3 full with aquarium rocks (the larger size) add the coins, fill with water till it just covers the coins. Add a few drops of dish detergent, put on the tops and put them on the tumbler for 8-10 hours.

    Method B- Fill both drums approximately 1/3 full with aquarium rocks (the larger, sharper size) add the coins, fill with white vinegar till it just covers the coins. Add two tablespoons of salt, put on the tops and put them on the tumbler. If the coins have been partially cleaned tumble them for 1-2 hours. If fresh from the ground and grungy tumble them for 3 hours, dump the dirty vinegar and replace it with new vinegar and add salt and put back on the tumbler for 2 more hours.

    I'm not too concerned about how the quarters, dimes and nickels look as long as they're presentable. I do want the wheat pennies to look as good as dug coins can look. With that in mind which method above would you choose and why?


  2. #2
    Surrender the Booty

    Apr 2011
    Royal Palm Beach, Fl
    Minelab CTX-3030, Minelab Exalibur II, Garrett AT Pro
    427 times
    Beach and Shallow Water Hunting
    First, I don't recommend you tumble any coins you wish to keep. Tumbling is very destructive to coins, but great if you want to dump them at a coin counter.

    That said, if you wanted to clean coins just for dump purposes, do method B, followed by method A, but you really don't need to do 8-10 hours. I do 30-60 minutes and they are fine.

    I like wheat pennies, I would not tumble them if I wanted to keep them.

  3. #3

    Mar 2014
    western us
    minelab 4000,fisher gb2,f75
    52 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I have a small tumbler, I use lime away and water , tumble for 1-1 1/2 hrs. they turn out pretty clean. don't tumble penny's with dimes and quarters or nickels, the dimes, nickels or quarters. they turn a copper color.

  4. #4
    Oct 2012
    864 times
    Metal Detecting
    Your clad will be presentable LONG before 8-10hrs of tumbling.

    I use the smaller gravel in my tumbler w/ a few drops of dish soap and only run em for an hour or so. Fine to spend anywhere in the US. I also tumble my pennies the same way (yes wheats too!) and they come out well!
    Remember...You are unique. Just like everyone else!

  5. #5
    Brian Little

    Apr 2013
    Hardy, Nebraska
    Teknetics Eurotek Pro, Fisher F2, Garrett Ace 250 Teknetics Delta4000
    264 times
    Metal Detecting
    I use a small handful of BB's and a few drops of dawn, tumble 2 hours

  6. #6
    Mar 2011
    Chandler Tx
    White's VX3, Garrett AT PRO, Tesoro Cibola
    53 times
    Metal Detecting
    Prefer method B.

    I use aquarium gravel, water and some Barkeepers friend/Bon-Ami/Comet. I only tumble my "spending coins" so I can run them through my banks counter.

    Just keep your pennies separate from everything else... otherwise you get some funny colored Q's D's and N's. One penny will turn em all a coppery/golden color.
    If you ever hit the big one detecting....follow the 3S rule. Shoot. Shovel and Shut up.

  7. #7
    Oct 2007
    Northern, OH
    DFX, White PI, Bounty Hunter, Whites Surfmaster II and Excalibur II
    414 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Honorable Mentions (1)
    method A and you only need to tumble for a hour and the coins will be find to spend. and your wheats will look good also.
    CRH 2014 find
    War Nickels
    Mercs 4
    Rosie 6
    90% Kennedy
    40% halfs
    Detecting Finds
    Quarters `
    Silver Quarters
    Silver Dimes

  8. #8
    Feb 2012
    God's Country
    Garret Ace 250, AT Pro, Garret Pro Pointer
    341 times
    Metal Detecting
    Honorable Mentions (3)
    Method A for me. I always tumble pennies separate from other coins. I toss in a couple handfuls of coins, a cup or so of aquarium gravel, put just a little bit of water in, and a small amount of dish soap. You don't want to overload the Harbor Freight tumblers, they'll eat belts and the motors will run hot. Periodically oil the rollers too. Another tip: buy a large dish pan and set your tumbler inside of it when running. The drum lid on mine has worked itself open on a few occasions, and having everything in the dish pan makes clean-up easier in that situation.

    A couple hours at most and the coins usually look great. I bought a screen type strainer to dump the contents of the drum into after tumbling. I spray down the gravel and coins to get the soap and muddy foam off them, then pick out the coins and give them once last rinse before patting with a towel and letting them air dry. Zinc pennies will still corrode and some will turn to power.

    Vinegar will clean the coins but it gives them a nasty color. If you are going to cash everything in anyways then I guess it doesn't really matter, I just prefer to use water and soap.

    I pretty much do the same as fella mentioned above. Common wheats will clean up in just a short amount of time, you don't want to tumble them too long!

  9. #9
    Jan 2014
    Newton, NC
    XP Deus
    2002 times
    Metal Detecting
    Okay, I experimented this morning. I tried method A in drum #1 and method B in drum #2. What I mean by that is one drum had nickels, dimes, and quarters with water and dish detergent. The other drum had the same exact quantity of nickels, dimes, and quarters but had white vinegar and salt. I put both drums on the tumbling machine and let them run for 2 hours. The soap and water drum left a lot to be desired. The vinegar and salt coins looked great with a small disclaimer. One of the coins I thought was a dime turned out to be a penny so some of the coins were just a little stained but only in small areas and not a lot. So had the penny not been in there they would have turned out fantastic. The jury is still out on how this will work with pennies.

  10. #10
    Head Above Water

    Nov 2004
    Lee's Tavern Road
    21 years behind a coil Fisher F70 Bounty Hunter Lone Star Tesoro Tiger Shark
    54 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I go with aquarium gravel, a household cleaner and water, together with time in the tumbler.
    I mean, what's the hurry?

    I don't tumble collectible coins, until I've determined what their value is. Even then, it's unlikely I'd do it.
    Youve already been admonished to tumble copper coins by themselves. Follow that advice.
    You'll get it all. Or you won't.
    Someday, you'll die and leave it behind anyway.
    Act accordingly.

    "All of mans culture, all his achievements, are as nothing without good plumbing"

  11. #11

    Jun 2014
    Jaffrey, New Hampshire
    169 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I use the method *C*

    Spend those crusty coins at the drive up window.

    They will take anything!



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