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Anyone here use a chipper? Looking at 3 on Craigslist, your thoughts.

Post in 'The Gear' started by Josh Hufford, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Josh Hufford

    Josh Hufford New Member

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    My wife and I have been thinking about getting a chipper/mulcher. Our yard has quite a few trees so there are always sticks in the yard to pick up, and I'm thinking it would be great for mulching up the bark and small scraps that are leftover after splitting rounds. The mulch would be really handy to use in our garden.

    Does anyone use one to much up bark and small scrap from splitting?

    There is an MTD 5hp in so/so shape for $175
    There is an 6.5hp Craftsman that looks to be in good shape for $200
    And then there is a Troy-Bilt Super Tomahawk 8hp for $375

    Right now I'm thinking the Craftsman is maybe the best deal, but I hate dealing with Sears and don't want to have to mess with them if I need a part. The Troy-Bilt looks pretty heavy duty, but maybe more than I need. Anything larger than probably 2" I'm going to cut up and use and kindlin, so I don't need something that will chip up large limbs, and it might just use more fuel than needed.

    Your thoughts? Thanks!

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  2. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Skip the craftsman and mtd, they work so-so for garden refuse and leaves and do not play nicely with stringy stuff, but it better be dry. Easy to jam up and a royal pain to clear. Also they are direct coupled to the eng., no clutch, real pain to start I have a 8hp one. The Troy unit has mostly had good marks, Has a clutch so starting is easier depending on the model, ( can you post a link for a pic). On a lot of the small units if it says 2" it maybe will chip 1" slow as molasses in Jan.. I also have a 20hp Echo /Bearcat chipper/ shredder ( could call semipro i guess) not apples to apples I know but a world of difference in operation and not kind on wallet (around $8K list, got used though so didn't hurt as much). Maybe a better choice just stack all that stuff up and once a year rent a true chipper. You can run all that stuff through in an hour or so v/s all day for the consumer units, just a thought. ( A lot of the small tree service guys do just that rather than tying up $10k to $30k in equipment) I do not like bonfires have a large city owned wooded area behind me so grinding is only alternative to hauling to recycle center ( also a royal pia, goes on trailer easy, beastly to get off).
  3. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    + 1 for the Super Tomahawk. Good units they were. The other two will be a waste of $$.

    Get an extra knife for it. Or Two. Either learn to sharpen them properly or find a shop that does. (not as easy as you'd think.) Sharp knives are to a chipper as sharp chain is to a chainsaw. If the branches are not self-feeding, time to sharpen. Keep a belt for it on hand as well.

    Whatever unit you decide to get, make sure it has a hammer mill on it (shredder). That will make mulch like you're hoping to use on the garden.. You can run leaves, twigs, bark, splitter trash (under 1/2" thick), basically whatever through it. With a chipper only type unit, you will be limited to chipping up branches only.

    Good quality chipper shredders are not cheap to buy new, expect to spend north of $1000. Also capacity ratings are to be taken with a grain of salt. Even though a machine is rated for 3", the chute opening may only allow a 3" broomstick through it. Branches, crotches and twisted limbs all reduce the size of the wood you can feed the machine. Generally, 3" is the smallest I'd reccomend for a usable unit. And trust me, 2" branches will make it work.
  4. Josh Hufford

    Josh Hufford New Member

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  5. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I used to have one but it went the way of most of my toys which is that it was used so infrequently that it made no sense to maintain it. Now i take branches to the local recycle center and they give me free mulch and compost. They do all the work.
  6. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I looked at it too and after several recommendations decided against it. 2-10k for a unit that takes up a lot of space and had only one use was out of the question for homeowner use. I've got acres rolling woods so I just drag it out of sight into a pile. The wildlife appreciate the structure. Last year when piling I flushed out a mother and fawn, thought for sure she was going to come after me. If I had to get rid of it i'd either rent or pay for pickup.
  7. Josh Hufford

    Josh Hufford New Member

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    I don't have a good spot in my yard for burning, and I don't have any woods to just pile things up in. I live outside of city limits so I have to pay to dump anything at the yard waste center. The Troy-Bilt in the ad does look in pretty good shape. It's about 30 miles from me, I might try and look at it this weekend.
  8. Bocefus78

    Bocefus78 Minister of Fire

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    I agree 100%. If you arent going to get a large somewhat commercial grade chipper, skip it all together and burn em in a burn pile. Its faster, leaves way less mess, and nothing to store, maintain, sharpen, or fuel up. Pile em up all year and burn em in the wet season.
  9. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

  10. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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  11. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    Just recently bought a similar chipper, but one that has a different belt tensioner and is still labeled Garden Way instead of Troy-Bilt.

    Its a solid machine, but some of the parts are sorta hard to find. What I like about it is that most of the stuff that you need can be made by a good machine shop if necessary. Also, www.brentchalmers.com has a bunch of the flails, blades, and manuals to download if you want them.

    Biggest PITA for me so far is that I needed to sharpen the chipper knife, and the bolts holding it to the flywheel were held in with red threadlocker. A little allen wrench (they are flat head screws) just turned right out, and I had to pull the whole chipper apart to drill out what was left. It was not fun.

    As far as having a homeowner chipper, everyone here has said most of what can be said. They are slow compared to a commercial unit, and they wont take a huge stick. But I like it for when I have stuff that I would rather not pile up just yet, or drag all across my property to get it to a burn pile. It took a little time, but it cleans things up nicely. Stuff that is too big for it to chip I save for my wood boiler, or I put that in the burn pile.
  12. Josh Hufford

    Josh Hufford New Member

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    Would you consider the Troy-Bilt I posted heavy duty enough? I just left a message with the owner asking to see it.
  13. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

  14. Bocefus78

    Bocefus78 Minister of Fire

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    Heavy enough is a relative term. For me, if it's under 3", I dont want it in my wood stacks and I dont wanna waste time cutting up twigs. Most chippers wont take a 3" limb even if advertised. A couple posts above stated how hard it is to remove the knives to sharpen them. Plus he had to drill out stripped screws. Do you like to work on things? Take all that into consideration....plus, what are you going to do with the "mulch"? that crap still has to be moved. For me, if it takes all day to get to a simple maintenence issue, I would rather rent a bigger one and not have to store it or fix it.

    Also, those things dont like vines at all.....I dont think anyone has stated that yet. You will be pulling it apart again if you load 'er up with a vine or 2.

    With all that said, would I own it? No, but it doesnt mean its not right for you. I would rather have a pile or 2 in the yard than spend time working on crap that isnt easily serviced. In all honesty, the times I have used chippers...even tow behind big commercial units, they dont save much time vs. piling up branches or hauling them off to the dump. Now if I was going to use the mulch and it was going to save me $$$, thats a whole new ball game.
  15. mustash29

    mustash29 Feeling the Heat

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    Both of those posted are sweet deals.

    My bro bought a house west of DC summer of '11. That fall we cleaned up the back yard that was all overgrown with nasty unmaintained and storm broken trees that were covered in poison vines and Kudzo vines. He got a 700 dollar Troy built from Home Depot that was a factory refurb unit for a good deal. It kicked absolute butt, sucked nearly 3" vines in like they were twigs.

    Dad, Mom, Bro & myself all had bad poison. The other 3 needed Dr visits for prednisone. I used calamine and 2% benzocane burn cream to numb the itch. His wife, 2 girls and my GF were feeding & watering the crew, so they didn't get into the poison.

    This is the big broken cherry that we dropped. The S-10 and Warn M-8000 winch came in quite handy. (Sorry the vid is sideways, camera girl messed up <> )

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is Bro's 16" Echo and Dad's 18" Red Max.

    [​IMG]
  16. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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    Are these chippers/shredders? I was told the chipper/shredders suck for chippers.

    We did buy the DR 10 HP Chipper so I never have used the ones you listed.
  17. Clarkbug

    Clarkbug Minister of Fire

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    I just came in from chipping up a big limb that fell out of a box elder. My little Troy-Bilt did awesome. Sharp knives and good flails make a big difference.

    I did have to drill out the bolts, but the machine was very easy to take apart for what that is worth. Hand tools (other than the drill). Admittedly if I had realized there was red thread locker on the bolts, I could have put heat on them first and probably been OK.

    Mine is a chipper shredder and it does pretty well. Then again, mine has two blades on the flywheel, which is unusual for these residential style machines.

    Its going to depend on your needs and how you like to work.
  18. Josh Hufford

    Josh Hufford New Member

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    Well I bought the Troy-Bilt. I tried a few limbs in the shredder part before I bought it, it sucked them in and spit them out like it was nothing. If it isn't raining this weekend it will get a good workout.
    MasterMech likes this.
  19. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Just finished repairing an old Shark chipper shredder for my cousin. Maybe a 2" opening for the chipper section. Shredder seems to work fairly well fixed flails in this one, 8 hp. I will get a pic later as it is at shop. Didn't try the chipper portion on anything hard, little section of Birch (1.5) worked ok on that.

    My bearcat chip shred unit got a work out on Buckthorn last Summer ( why I ponied up in the first place) it was sucking 4" Buckthorn through the chipper portion ( green went a bit easier that old dried) with out a problem (orange /black is bear cat photo lifted from echo)
    The unit I have is very easy to work on, 1 bolt and the whole chip shred section folds open for access to everything.
    Friend had a troy tomahawk,. I made a new set of knives for it, he put a lot of material through that unit. worked well for him. Sadly he has passed on on and I do not know where the Tommy went.

    Attached Files:

  20. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    You made the right choice. I inherited a Craftsman 8HP from my father-in-law and it's pretty difficult to use and doesn't work so hot with anything that isn't very dry and small. I've been keeping an eye out for a new chipper on craigslist myself lately but haven't run across anything worth looking into yet.
  21. DaveGunter

    DaveGunter Member

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    a little late here for the OP, but Mackissic makes some of the best homeowner grade chipper/shredders on the market. Built like a tank, made in the USA, superior product support, I've got the 12p model, and it works well. If you are lucky enough to find a used one for sale, buy it, you won't regret it.
  22. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Thats a nice looking unit,looks like its brand new. THey do make some darn good tillers, so id say you did pretty good.
  23. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest


    There I fixed it.

    Unfortunately the company that built those legendary tillers is gone. They used to build some great snowblowers and chipper/shredders as well. The name and paint scheme is still around but they suffered the same horrifying transformation that Cub Cadet did in the 80's/90's. Both were bought by MTD and the products have become less and less robust with every passing generation. I wouldn't touch one of the "Troy-Bilt" chipper shredders or even one of the tillers that are in Lowes with a 10 ft pole, let alone a dollar.

    That Tomahawk chipper is indeed a great machine however and you should enjoy a long and productive life from it.
  24. Josh Hufford

    Josh Hufford New Member

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    Well I gave it a good workout today, this thing works awesome. It's almost a bit scary at times when it sucks branches down into the shredder, you have to make sure your hands are not wrapped in the branches. I ran it for about an hour, changed the oil in it, then probably ran it for another 2 hours. It's a little cold natured when you first start it up but once the engine is warm it runs great, I'm really happy with it. Shredding bark from split rounds really makes some nice mulch.
    MasterMech likes this.
  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like a different MTD than the one I have, for sure.

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