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For those who do not remember I started a thread a while back about the best way to get a chicken plucker. Buy one or build one? Here is a link to a rather lengthy discussion about several different ones being offed as well as kits and parts being offered by various sources. here is a link to the discussion.

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/livestock-forums/poultry/521494-gonna-build-whizbang-i-think.html

While I thought seriously about buying an already made plucker, I finally decided to build one instead. My decision was based on several factors. The high cost of the Featherman unit, the reported low quality of the imported units and the fact that none of them were made entirely of S.S. to avoid rust and corrosion in the future from using cleaning solutions and the machine constantly getting wet during use. In the end I decided to buy the Whizbang "Shebang" kit and build my own, so here it is for any interested.

This first picture is of the tub. I used thin gauge S.S. sheet metal and then reinforced the bottom and top with 3/8" S.S. round rod. I started drilling the 3/4" holes for the fingers with a hole saw, but after 6 holes it was all done. I wound up using a normal 3/4" drill bit and drilling a pilot hole to start, which worked well for the next 60 or so holes I had to drill.
 

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This next picture is of the frame, again all S.S. I wanted a feather chute so I added that in so that all the feathers would be deposited into one place and not just strewed around on the ground as with some of the commercially made units which simply has an open bottom. The feather plate is aluminum and came in the Shebang Kit. I did drill 3 additional holes for the sweeper fingers that carry the feathers to the chute as I wanted a full set of fingers pointing up so I did not have any gaps where birds might get caught. The motor was a 1 h.p. motor that I ordered from Grizzly.
 

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Here is a picture of the bottom side. The shaft and the bearings were also included in the kit and saved me a lot of time having to make the shaft and order the bearings separately. I could have made most of the parts in the kit, but it really did save me a lot of time to have them already made and come in one package. Especially the feather plate, as drilling 3/4" holes in anything is not fun at all, especially when you are talking about over 150 holes all together
 

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here you can see the motor and pulley setup. The big pulley came in the kit and it really is a big heavy made pulley, the best I found as most were the light weight ones. This extra weight sure seems to help keep the momentum up when you add chickens. The small pulley for the motor was not included in the kit, but it was only $10 or so on ebay.
 

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Here it is nearing completion. The angle on the upper left side is where I mounted the on/off switch. I added extra fingers over what the WHizbang plans called for and I also added 50 softer fingers that I bought on ebay. I was really afraid of tearing skin and breaking bones as I had read some people having trouble with that. I did break a few bones and we did tear the skin on one chicken. I left a chicken in too long and broke a wing and my wife did the same thing once I had her start running it. My mother scalded one chicken a little to long and tha was the only one that we tore the skin on. Overall there is a learning curve to using one of these, but once you figure it all out it does not damage your chickens. The important thing to remember is you can always put them back in if you stop and it still has feathers, you can not un-break a wing and it is difficult to put skin back on!!
 

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Here it is actually at work. I bought one 50' 5/8" garden hose and made my rinse tube around the top as well as the hose to hook it up from that hose. I actually cut it into about 3 pieces and made a few hand held sprayers also for other things. I mounted a simple ball valve to control the water flow through the sprayers. I used a plastic laundry basket under the chute to catch the feathers that worked quite well. I added a 50' cord so it could be used just about anywhere without having to be right on top of a building to plug it in or use an extension cord. I actually wired in a 50' extension cord which is what I used and a outdoor water proof on/off switch. Not sure how well you can see in the pictures, but I made a S.S. cover for the motor to keep it dry when in use. I was surprised at how much water is running out of this thing when it is being used.
 

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While I did not really follow many of the plans in his book I do not think Mr. Kimball would be offended. His kit really made it a lot easier and was well worth the money to me. So what did I gain by building my own? I have one exactly like I wanted and it is made all from S.S, not S.S. over a steel frame!! I was able to buy a parts kit from another small American home business as well (Herrick Kimball of Whizbang). That was my biggest motivation to tell you the truth. I kept asking myself. How could I expect others to buy produce and chicken and pork from me, a small American farmer, if I was not willing to do the same thing and support other small American business people?? The cost quite honestly is about the same as I could have bought one of the cheap Chinese imports for. I do realize not everyone has the tools and equipment to build an all S.S. unit as I did, but the basic Whizbang does not require it, as it can be made from simple hand tools, so building your own really is an option for almost anyone.
We processed about 30 broilers this time and in a month or so I have about 75 more to do. I have no doubt the more we use it, the more refined our technique will become and the better results and quicker we will become, although quite honestly, I was happy with it this first time even with 2 broke wings.
BTW, I did also put 11 quail in and except for one that got stuck in the very center of the feather plate they all got de-feathered pretty well and were not broken up, so I am quite sure I will be able to do quail in it, if I choose to. If I can help anyone by answering any specific questions just let me know, I will be glad to help.

I just realized after reading through the post I did not show pictures or mention the belt tensioned that came in the kit. I modified the mount a bit, but it really is needed. Once the belt stretches from use and gets wet (and it will get wet!!) without a way to tension the belt it will slip.

What would I do different?? I would probably use more fingers in the tub and I would use more of the softer fingers, although I am really not sure either would make an improvement yet, just probably something I would do if I could try it?
 

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Here is a picture of it all finished. The streaks on the side is the soap that ran down from the fingers. This was before I washed it for use, after finishing it. To install the fingers I took a little dish washing soap and put on the end, so it would lubricate the rubber fingers and help to make it easier to install the fingers into the feather plate and the tub. I was able to pull all of the fingers in by hand doing it this way.
 

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Beets,
I do not have exact numbers, but I think I am close to $1000 in it? I did not count my labor as I enjoy making things and did not take of from a paying job to do it.
Whizbang kit $399.00
Motor from Grizzly $140.00
Misc electrical $75.00
Extra fingers (the soft ones) $25.00 (I have about 50 spares that came with the kit that I did not use also)
Wheels and hardware $30.00
S.S. ( this is where I do not have exact numbers because I bought $600.00 worth but I used some for the scalder and I have some left over) I would estimate $300 to $350 worth of the S.S. went into this.

That puts me basically just below $1000.00 in it. A person can buy one of the Chinese imports for a hundred or so less or the Featherman for about $400 more. In either case you still will not have an all S.S. unit, if that matters to you. I understand not everyone will have the resources I had to work with and would have to hire out some of the welding and fabricating, which would drive the price up considerably. I wanted an all S.S. unit, if someone had been selling them I would have considered a ready made unit, but no one does. The Chinese imports are thin S.S. riveted to a steel frame. The Featherman is mostly plastic covers and I do not know what it is framed with, but I do not believe it is S.S. Featherman also uses a gearbox, which I did not like as it seems an overly expensive piece of equipment compared to a simple pulley system. One the wear item is a $10.00 belt the other is a $$$ set of gears. I do not think it was a significant savings for me, but I think I got a better unit for the $$ invested.
 
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