Wood Chippers

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Calbob, Feb 24, 2004.

  1. Calbob

    Calbob Member

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    I'm looking for consumer reviews,recommendations on wood chippers. I'm sure there's many of you, the consumer, that have experiences with wood chippers. I have approx 6 acres of fallen branches etc. that I need to clear and then hopefully many years of ongoing maintenence. I'm interested in something 'decent', 8 HP or so, engine driven and best bang for the buck. I'd also like to know which are metal and which ones are plastic. Thanks.
     
  2. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    I would work for several weeks on piling those branches up into managable piles, and then I would rent a great big industrial chipper and spend a full day chipping. They run about $200/day to rent. I just don't think you'll find a smaller one that you like. If you have 6 ac. of woods you want to manage, you'll have lots of branches that are bigger than the maximum that the little one can take. BTW, Craftsman 8hp sucks.
     

  3. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

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    I have an eight horse from lowes. It is a lot of work to use. You have to feed it just right or things get clogged. If branches have large curves or a Y branch it clogs. Had to disassemble a few times to unclog. It would not work very well for 6 acres. It eats up straight branches and smaller things well. A lot of chain saw work and practice feeding to use. All metal parts and does seem to be holding up. I would burn the wood if possible.
     
  4. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    I have an old 5 HP Kemp hammermill style shredder with separate "planer blade" style chipper. It will chip branches up to 3" diameter. As someone mentioned you have to do a lot of trimming work to convert a 3" tree with branches into a 3" pole that your chipper can then converted to chips. All the removed branches can then be run through the chipper too or fed through the hammer mill side. I lent it to a friend who was considering buying a chipper shredder for his one acre property. He used it several weekends and when he returned it I asked him what he thought. His comment was "It works fine but it's kind of like sharpening pencils all day." Which I thought was a funny but a good description.

    I'm not sure but I don't think the extra 3 horsepower you're thinking of will solve that problem at all.

    Now that I have a larger property, I have resorted to both burning on occasion (as suggested by others) and by renting an industrial self feeding chipper on occasion. The self feeder deals with the issue of accepting whole small trees much better than the 8 hp chipper shredder would.

    Sorry if that's discouraging but I feel it's true. It's probably the rare chipper shredder owner that uses theirs more than a few times a year. Not sure there would be a payoff

    Best Wishes

    Ed
     
  5. I have a 10 horsepower Troy-bilt chipper/shredder. It should really be considered as a shredder that can handle an occassional branch through the chipper. Like Ed K said, it is kind of like sharpening pencils all day long.

    Burning provides good piles of potash to use in gardening. If you can safely burn legally, that is the way I would go.

    I believe Chipper/shredders are pretty dangerous, and the instruction manual seems to concur. The industrial machines have to be too. Every so often you hear of a worker severely injuried. I'd resort to a commercial machine as a last resort if I couldn't burn.

    Don't forget too, that God's critters need some places to hide/live. I usually leave at least one brush pile on the farm for the bunnies.
     
  6. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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  7. I have a Mobark 12” disk chipper. It is powered by a 80hp Cummins diesel. Bought it used about 8 years ago for $10K. Use it all the time for my tree business and for storm damage/clean up jobs. Works like a champ. I hire it and the operator for $50 an hour. If you take the time to stack your branches properly, you can chip an amazing amount of branches in 1 hour. See if you can find someone in your area who has a decent chipper that would be willing to chip your brush. You can rent one but disk chippers can be a bit intimidating to the uninitiated and rentals are often very abused. I have hear horror stories about people who rent them to chip things like sheds and old houses. I NEVER loan mine out to anyone.
    Small homeowner chippers are really not worth the money. You will only end up frustrated at the performance of the machine. You are better off finding a good used industrial chipper (gassers are usually cheap) and using it around your property. You could also set up a part time business, if you have a truck you can use for a chip truck. If you own a decent tractor, see if you can find a 3pt hitch disk chipper. A friend just picked up a used Valby for the back of his Kubota for $3500. He is using it to clear his fence line.
    As a last resort get yourself a truckload of hardwood pallets and stack them into something that resembles a pile or mound. Throw all of your brush on top of the pallets and set it ablaze. Before I got the chipper I used to have some BIG fires. Works best if you give the brush some time to dry out but you can burn green if you keep the heat up. Good Luck
     
  8. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    And how is it exactly that they expect you to rake the leaves upward into a downward-facing leaf chute...with about 6" clearance! Someone was hitting the bottle the day they designed that one. Ours is going in the swap rag next week.
     
  9. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    I went through a similar search. Checked out buying - too expensive, then renting, even hiring a tree service (they wouldn't even return my calls!).

    I had huge piles of brush and brambles to chip up as I cleared my neglected land. I ended up burning them and it worked great - started with a pile about 4 ft square and then just kept feeding it. I laid entire small trees across the pile, they burn in half and then fold the ends in. It was faster and easier than any chipping option. (And sort of fun to do on a cold wet winter day!).

    I figure that once I get this first batch down, there won't be the huge need for chippers or brush piles if I keep up with things. Maybe I am dreaming. :D
     
  10. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    You would be there forever with a store bought chipper. I have a troybilt 10hp and as someone said it's like sharpening 4ft long pencils ALL DAY to get rid of a tiny pile. They are also useless on any quantity of leaves. The only way to get rid of a brush pile is with a large industrial chipper loke someone mentioned or burning. The other choice if the pile is in a place where it doesn't matter is leaving it for shelter for rabbits and birds.
     
  11. Calbob

    Calbob Member

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    Thanks to the many folks who offered their experienced comments. I must admit they where discouraging in one sense but that is exactly what I was looking for.

    I was working on the assumption that the better 8 & 9 HP units where fairly effective and would get the job done. Based on your replies it sounds like that may not be the case for my 6+ acres. Even more so if I get into the last 4 and start thinning out green growth.

    Unfortunately my property is in a very hot and dry area of B.C. (Barriere if you followed last summers B.C. firestorm) so burning would be a bit tricky. Early spring after the snow melts would be a good time except everything will be wet. I could try piling it into big piles during the summer which then might keep all but the top stuff reasonably dry during the snow but that seems like a stretch.

    My other reason for wanting to chip was to provide lots of compost material that I could till into the rather sandy soil and help build it up a bit.

    Bottom line; sounds like I should re-think my plan. Again, thanks to all for your very helpful comments.
     
  12. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Calbob, just treat the limbs as if they were debris from the garden and compost them in a long windrow. You can rot them into humus rather quickly and with 6 acres it should be achievable for one person to manage. Use the larger limbs for fire wood.
     
  13. RAC

    RAC Guest

    What we do with ours (DH does chip some, but it's the same experience as everyone else has mentioned, so it's slow going) is drag pieces back into the more wooded area of the property and let it decompose. Unless you're standing right on top of it, you don't know it's there--you think that the branch just fell down from another tree.... When it rains it helps soak up the excess water, something you don't have when you burn it all.
     
  14. Swampdweller

    Swampdweller Well-Known Member

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    We have a ministry here whereby we cut brush off local roads and give the firewood to the needy. I've been pondering for some time now the purchase of a good, solid chipper to make mulch and compost rather than ash and brush piles. I'm interested in a three point mount, pto driven type that would take from 6 to 9 inch material. Has anyone here experience with that type chipper ? Of the self-contained types, who makes the toughest machine ? Most user friendly, easy to service, etc. ?

    Swampdweller
     
  15. For PTO powered units, Valby is pretty much the industry standard. My local tractor dealer sells Bearcat and they look just like a Valby with different paint. From what I remember, you will need a tractor of at least 40hp-100hp to run one. These machines are built like a tire tool and are pretty simple to use and maintain. They utilize a big heavy vertical disk (600lbs+) that has three sets of knives on the face of the disk. You simply feed the wood through a chute till it hits the disk and the knives chip and drag the wood down the chute as it gets eaten. Small fingers on the edge of the disk throw the chips out of the chute. The big option on many of the PTO powered chippers are hydraulic infeed rollers. These things grab the wood and feed it into the machine for you. It is an expensive option but saves a lot of time cuz they will crush small branches that will otherwise prevent a branch from feeding into the machine. Maintenance on the machine is grease, keeping the knives sharp and setting the distance between the knives and the anvil. Used they run from about $2500 to $5000. Add another 2 to 3 K for the infeed rollers.
    You might be better off looking for a good used industrial chipper. Names like Mobark, Vermeer and Brush Bandit come to mind. I am impartial to Mobark cuz I own one but they are all pretty much the same. A good used disk chipper will set you back about 10 to 12K (gas models will be cheaper) but will come with its own engine and the hydraulic infeed rollers. They are small enough to be towed behind a full sized pickup and you can make good money chipping brush, storm damage, or doing light tree work. All you need is a chip truck, a chainsaw and the chipper and you are in business. Maintenance is the similar but you need to keep an eye on the infeed rollers. The hydraulic motors are coupled to the infeed rollers via spline shafts on the motors and grooved couplers on the infeed rollers. The couplers take a brutal beating and break on my machine every 50-100 hours or so. They are easy to replace provided that you know how to weld and have a welder. Newer machines have better designs but it is the weak point on any disk chipper.
     
  16. I'm currently looking at a vermeer 906 three point, takes a 9 inch log, max. I'm pretty much sold on the three point because I don't need to maintain another engine that way. I've got a 4020 diesel that I'm training to run on used oil. I've basically got it licked, but don't want to set up another diesel to run on oil until I have to. For economics and power reasons, I don't particularly care for gas engines. Thank you for an informative post. I'm not looking to make much money, nice as that can be. I'm mainly interested in making chips for our composting and methane enterprises. Time will tell.

    Swampdweller

    QUOTE=Unregistered]For PTO powered units, Valby is pretty much the industry standard. My local tractor dealer sells Bearcat and they look just like a Valby with different paint. From what I remember, you will need a tractor of at least 40hp-100hp to run one. These machines are built like a tire tool and are pretty simple to use and maintain. They utilize a big heavy vertical disk (600lbs+) that has three sets of knives on the face of the disk. You simply feed the wood through a chute till it hits the disk and the knives chip and drag the wood down the chute as it gets eaten. Small fingers on the edge of the disk throw the chips out of the chute. The big option on many of the PTO powered chippers are hydraulic infeed rollers. These things grab the wood and feed it into the machine for you. It is an expensive option but saves a lot of time cuz they will crush small branches that will otherwise prevent a branch from feeding into the machine. Maintenance on the machine is grease, keeping the knives sharp and setting the distance between the knives and the anvil. Used they run from about $2500 to $5000. Add another 2 to 3 K for the infeed rollers.
    You might be better off looking for a good used industrial chipper. Names like Mobark, Vermeer and Brush Bandit come to mind. I am impartial to Mobark cuz I own one but they are all pretty much the same. A good used disk chipper will set you back about 10 to 12K (gas models will be cheaper) but will come with its own engine and the hydraulic infeed rollers. They are small enough to be towed behind a full sized pickup and you can make good money chipping brush, storm damage, or doing light tree work. All you need is a chip truck, a chainsaw and the chipper and you are in business. Maintenance is the similar but you need to keep an eye on the infeed rollers. The hydraulic motors are coupled to the infeed rollers via spline shafts on the motors and grooved couplers on the infeed rollers. The couplers take a brutal beating and break on my machine every 50-100 hours or so. They are easy to replace provided that you know how to weld and have a welder. Newer machines have better designs but it is the weak point on any disk chipper.[/QUOTE]