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Straw Chopper- first version


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#1 catdaddy

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:11 PM

Ok, since my goal is small commercial production of edibles, AND my blue oyster PF jars are fully colonized, it was time to chop straw for bulk substrate.
Being the lazy cheap bastard I am, here's what I came up with. The blender I have for shop use, slightly modified. It needs work as it blows chopped straw in every direction, it seems, but MOST goes in the can...
I promise a better version soon, honey. Yes I'll sweep ALLLL of that shit up, I promise. Go upstairs and enjoy the movie. Just shut the door and turn it up, that's a good girl..
Anyway, I holesawed a 1 1/4" hole in the side of a plastic blender jar (I think a polycarbonate blender jar would be better, the holesaw ripped a chunk out of the side, hence the duct tape) and cut the bottom out.
It works best if fed slowly, but WTF? It saves wear and tear on the scissors and my arthritic hands. And it does chop straw like nobody's business!
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#2 catdaddy

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:00 AM

I forgot the pics...I chopped half a 40 gallon trash can full in under 30 minutes- including cleanup time.
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#3 catdaddy

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:09 AM

one more time...

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#4 hyphaenation

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:36 AM

Looks pretty messy. :pirate:

I used to chop straw by hand until I got my leaf mulcher / blower. It did not do straw well until I modified it. The unit had a fan inside that either vacuums or blows. Holding that fan on was a metal nut fitting. Luckily I was able to weld a nice sharp piece of metal to that. The weld took well and the bar sits above the fan and misses the wall of the tube by centimeters.

If I do the batch of straw twice it is absolutely perfect in every way. It also shreds leaves way better than the stock model. I've shredded mountains of leaf and straw so far.

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#5 the_chosen_one

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 03:18 AM

yeah, i still do the ol' weed wacker in a garbage can, but need to improve out put for the same reason. i like Hip's mulcher blower too. but really, i want the machine i can just cram a whole bale in :lol:

#6 kocos

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 03:41 AM

I need one of these sucker/blower mulchers, i spend hours everyweekend sitting on the side of my bathtub cutting straw with a pair of scissors, i have blisters all over my hands :D

#7 the_chosen_one

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 03:54 AM

ow! man, the weed wacker is far superior to cutting by hand! i picked up an old electric at a garage sale for like $5.00.. i think the garbage can was around $15.00. roll of line $5.00 ...worth every penny :D

#8 catdaddy

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 08:29 AM

yeah, i still do the ol' weed wacker in a garbage can, but need to improve out put for the same reason. i like Hip's mulcher blower too. but really, i want the machine i can just cram a whole bale in :lol:


Chosen, I have a friend who works for the city. They have these giant trailer mounted shredders that are only used in the fall. I'm gonna see if they will throw a bale through one for me.
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BTW, version two will have a ducting tube to direct the straw into the can. Sweeping up took less than two minutes. I like the mulcher, too- but the key word for the Catdaddy is CHEAP. I may fab something from a commercial vacuum motor. I have lots of them.

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#9 sandman

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 09:30 AM

The only way to chop up large amounts of straw is with a standard gas powered wood chipper/shredder. Make sure it is one that has a wide port for brush as well as the standard port for sticks. You dont want to be trying to cram straw in the tiny stick port trust me. I use a Yard Machines 5.5hp model I got from Craigslist used for like $150. It literaly takes 3-5 minutes to chop a whole bale. You attach a large mesh laundry bag to the output port and it allmost all gets caught with hardly any mess. I have done it many other ways including weedwacker in a trashcan/rubbermade and even big shears by hand.....Get a wood chipper. The results are perfect and its so easy. Make sure you dont let the motor sit for too long cause it will need carb work then.

#10 Hippie3

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 09:51 AM

i have both, a wood chipper and a leaf mulcher
and i find the leaf mulcher does a better job on straw
[the chipper i use for pulverizing poo]
can't do a whole bale at once
but i can shred a bale in about 15 minutes
and the texture is perfect after 2 passes thru.
think it was about $75 new at Lowe's hardware.
get the extended warranty, too.
Compare Prices on Black & Decker Bv2500 Leaf Hog Vac 'N' Mulch Blower/Vacuum

#11 hyphaenation

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:05 PM

Same here about 10 - 15 minutes per bale. Like I said I like to do it twice. A bale's worth of straw shredded would fill more than a bathtub and be enough for me to use for a month or 2. So as it is it takes just a few minutes to do my average load of straw.

I would highly recommend one of these units, especially if you hot-rod it with a cutting bar... you'll be amazed. I took pictures somewhere of the process of moding the blower/vac if anyone cares to see.

#12 Hippie3

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:09 PM

i would like to see hyph,
maybe could improve mine.

#13 hyphaenation

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:35 PM

Does your unit have a plastic intake fan hip? Taking the unit apart is pretty easy , mine had all the same size screws. You take the barrel off and the base comes apart in 2 halves.

Now you can see the fan that causes the vaccuum/blow it should be held down with a nut. Mine was square shaped. Over that I crazy glued a socket head. This takes a weld very well. I made sure the glue was very strong and liberally applied, but not oozzing out the top of the socket.

I let this dry very well. The metal I choose for the cutting bar was stong thin steel sharpened on the edges. At first I was going to use exacto-blade metal but then I thought better. The bar held very well to the socket. Just make sure that the length of the bar is just shy of the edges of the vaccum barrel, with a bit of room for grace.

I've used this modified cutting bar on hours and hours of leaves in the yard. Before I did the mod straw would go right into the bag unchanged and leaves would be 75 % of their size. After the bar was added straw is usuable first pass and leaves are shredded to oblivion.

I'll dig up those pictures or take some new ones. Out of curiosity let me know whether your unit has a metal nut holding the fan on. Even if it does'nt you can replace the plastic one with a suitable metal one, weld/glue those together and then weld the cutting bar on.

Cheers

H

BTW: Hey thanks for putting up with this Cat , not tying to jack your thread...

#14 golly

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 02:01 PM

That's a wild idea there CatD - like a mini inverted lawn mower...Heh
A mulching lawn mower with a bag attatchment will do the job too..
Spread the straw out evenly on the lawn and make a couple passes without the bag to reduces the partical size ,then attatch the bag to suck it all up...
Best to do this right after mowing the grass so there is less junk in the straw...

#15 greenweanie

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:00 AM

Same here about 10 - 15 minutes per bale. Like I said I like to do it twice. A bale's worth of straw shredded would fill more than a bathtub and be enough for me to use for a month or 2. So as it is it takes just a few minutes to do my average load of straw.

I would highly recommend one of these units, especially if you hot-rod it with a cutting bar... you'll be amazed. I took pictures somewhere of the process of moding the blower/vac if anyone cares to see.




lol, how much are u growing if your using a bale that fast, holy shit. my bail has lasted me a long time, and i double shred and use with compost, so its more straw than poo. I do 48 pints a month of wbs....

as for the shredder, i highly agree. I borrowed my brother's mulcher/blower and kicked some major ass. i tried 3 times and didnt see much of a difference, so twice was perfect.

#16 Hippie3

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:24 AM

lol, how much are u growing


don't ask, don't tell.
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#17 hyphaenation

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:27 AM

Oysters grow best on straw and I go through a lot with them, amongst others. Plus I use straw mixed in food garden beds and as mulch... Oh yah and occasionally for cubes.

#18 catdaddy

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:39 AM

Since my use of straw is completely legit, I can tell you, I have 1600 square feet of space, shelving up to 7 feet, just to grow edibles...

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#19 hyphaenation

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 12:43 AM

Sounds good




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