Wood Chipper / Shredder History

With many different types of wood chippers on the market, it is important to know which features will work best for specific landscapes. Ultimately, these machines help to reduce wood pieces from chips, sawdust, or trunks. They are transportable with various horsepower availabilities. They are used by placing limbs within their hopper and chops the material down. These bits are released through a tube that places them within a bin, crate, or even the ground.

Wood chippers have an energy storage called a heavy flywheel that is used to do all the work of the machine. The blades are attached to the face of the flywheel, and it is then accelerated by an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. As the wood is taken in, ultimately the inertia of the flywheel slows it down. As the wood is consumed, the engine then causes it to speed up. This is ultimately why the noise of a wood chipper has a sound similar to that of a siren.

Chippers are great in size, capacity, and style, and so are the knives that they use. They are between four to six inches long, and are shaped in a rectangle. They come in different sizes of thickness ranging from ½ to 2 inches. They are made from steel that are high grade, and most of the time they contain a minimum of eight percent chromium for hardness. Chippers have been controlled by different means since they were first created. Because of the harsh environment and application caused a huge lack of performance and reliability.

The digital start/stop auto fee was developed in 1999 by Kurt Snider, and was tested by Morbark. This was the first digital feed to be created for this type of equipment, but it still had a result of sawdust. He then produced the first digital, programmable, reversing control the next summer. It has a LED display, and is called the Auto-Feed Plus. This controller helps eliminate the process of self feeding of the self feeding of wood and other materials into the wheels when the engine bogged down.

This also helped to save the wear on knives, clutches, and the overall longevity of the equipment being that it was able to stop and reverse the feed wheels after the RPM’s of the engine is dropped to pre-determined set points. Digital controllers evolved the chipper industry. Most manufacturers of tree chippers all over the world use some variation of reversing auto feed.

The first chipper that was built was called a Drum Chipper. It received its name from its drum-shaped base. Many of them are still distributed today. The chopping mechanism is the in the ‘drum’, and is powered by a motor, most of the time a belt. The ‘drum’ also is used as the feed mechanism, allowing the wood to be pushed down to be chopped. It was nicknamed “chuck-and-duck”, because of the wood would move quickly once it came in contact with the drum. Being that this is the oldest model of the wood chipper family, it isn’t as safe as one would like.

If a person operating the machine clothing or limb gets in the way, it is certain that there will be injuries or even death. The Drum Chipper is also very loud, so it would be wise to wear ear plugs if working with one for long periods of time. The pieces of wood that are produced can be very big, and if thinly sliced metal is inserted, it is possible that they will be cut into slivers instead of chips. The drum isn’t able to be disengaged because it is too large and long, so if a piece of wood gets stuck in the drum, it will be in there tight. The newer versions come with reverse hydraulic feed that are digitally controlled and also have muffling systems. This also allows the Drum Chippers to take on larger diameter materials, which take usual capacities of 6-19 inches.

There are also bigger chipper styles used for processing whole trees, thus getting the nickname “whole tree chippers” or “recyclers.” They can handle materials between two to six feet in diameter, using employ drums, disks, or sometimes a combination of both. The largest machine, also known as tub grinders, can take on materials eight feet and larger in diameter. It is uses carbide tipped flail hammers to pulverize the material instead of just cutting it. The horsepower on this range between 200 to 1,000. Many of them can only be moved by semi-trailer trucks, being that they are so big and heavy. There are some smaller ones that can be pulled by average duty trucks.

Another make would be called Disk Chippers. These are a newer design with a steel disk equipped with knives attached to the chopping mechanism. The Disk Chopper has reversible hydraulic wheels that being the material from the hopper to the disk that is attached on a perpendicular angle to the material that is coming in. When the disk is spinning, the knives that are mounted to it cut the material into bits. Then they are thrown out through the tube by flanges on the drum. This version of the chipper isn’t as energy efficient as the Drum Chipper, but it creates the chips with more uniform shapes and size. This type of chipper is mostly used by tree care companies. They create material capacities between 6-24 inches.

There are various brands of wood chippers, including the Troy-Bilt CS499, which is at the top of the line in its market. It is a Chipper/Shredder and ranges in a price around $850. It has a robust engine equipped with 10 horsepower from Briggs & Stratton, and can chop up would that has a capacity of 3 inches. This chipper allows you to shred ground level by raking in the contents. The shredder has a lawn mower effect instead of a flailing blade like the chipper. It works best in small yards, handling only thinner branches and twigs. Most use it to clean up the yard and to trim the bushes and shrubs.

There are also heavy duty residential wood chippers. These are best used for larger yards with many acres of property to tend for. They can handle wooded lots and are more durable, which is essential for maintenance. One brand of this kind would be the ‘BCS Bio 100 Chipper’. It has eight horsepower from Briggs & Stratton, and can range in prices around $1600. Its equipped with a centrifugal clutch allowing easy start-up, and can chip wood up to three inches in diameter with its hardened steel knife.

Its shredder can cut up to one inch of brush with just 28 free swinging flails. It has handles and wheels similar to a wheelbarrow, allowing for a heavy-duty and transportable usability for the operator. The performance of the BCS is reputable for gardeners because of its easy to use durability and performance. It easily chops up heavy branches being that it is equipped with the heavy-duty flywheel, weighing 37 pounds. The BCS chips the toughest limbs, brush, as well as debris.

Unlike the residential wood chippers, the commercial and industrial ones contain more features. Some models have a feed stop bar, also known as an automatic feed. The Vermeer auto feeders allow the chipper to adjust the speed of the roller, which is based on the resistance that is detected. A great safety feature on the brand of chippers called SmartFeed, is an automatic reverse when the rollers become jammed. Compared to the Disc Chippers, Drum Chippers chop up stringy fronds from palm trees a lot better, and are much more productive with larger wood pieces and branches. On the other hand, Disc Chippers produces smaller and finer chips of wood than those of the Drum Chippers.

It all depends on what type of work the operator is trying to complete. The two most popular name brands in the commercial wood chipping industry are Vermeer and Morbark. Morbark created a line of brush chippers such as the Cyclone 8, Twister 12, Blizzard 14, and Hurricane 18. The Hurricane 18 is equipped with over 200 HP, and is equipped with a 23 ½ inch wide by 36 inch diameter chipping drum with four double-edged, staggered knives. With the feed rate of 120 fpm, and the capacity to chip 18 inches, it can devour wood in seconds.

Vermeer has been in the business for years, creating chippers like the BC600XL, which has top of the line performance. Others include Auto Feed II, Bottom Feed Stop Bar, and a 27 HP engine. The chippers that have disc are excellent for landscaping type work, especially golf courses, and for those who work outdoors or with a tree service company. The biggest chipper would be the Vermeer BC2000XL Brush Chipper. It has options for the three Caterpillar Tier II engine and comes in the ‘drum’ style. It is used well for clearing land and removing high amounts of brush.

The electric chipping manufacturers have been knocked due to the lack of adequate chippers and shredders in turn weren’t durable or had insufficient power to shred up branches and debris. There are only two that were aloud an exception, and those are the Patriot Model CSV-2515 Wood Chipper and the McCulloch Electric Chipper/Shredder. The Patriot Model CSV – 2515 Wood Chipper shredder is sold for prices around $800. It has a 1.5 HP engine that can chip branches up to 2 ½ inches, and with the flip of a switch, it’s turned on easily. It can be plugged into a standard 110V outlet and is less than 100 pounds in weight.

One can easily transport it around the yard being that it has wheels as well. It was rated as a “Best Buy” from the magazine Consumers Digest. It received positive reviews stating that it was easy to use. It’s great for the average homeowner that has a yard that contains debris after storms of high winds and winter conditions. The McCulloch chipper is a lot chipper, ranging around $250, and it’s true what they say, “You get what you pay for.”

Some people had trouble with the chipping aspect, while others had complaints about the shredding of wet and dry leaves, which clogs the shredder often and jamming it. Many people have also had issues with putting it together. For those who are more technical had no problem, but for the average person, it took too long and was difficult. After getting passed the assembly of the equipment, the customers said that it worked well and did what it was supposed to do. The only problem was with the jamming caused by the wet and dry leaves. This is best for those who don’t use chippers on an everyday basis, but for those who do, it would be best to invest $800.

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