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I made my own pellet vac for less than $20.00 - Video

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Shortstuff, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. orangecrushcj7

    orangecrushcj7 Feeling the Heat

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    I got mine built last week and wound up using a large apple juice bottle. The bottle with the cap still on puts snugly in the 2" pipe. So I cut the top to the cap off, so that it acts as a threaded sleeve within the 2" pipe.

    The vac got a real good test tonite. As I was pouring the pellets in, I spilled about 1/8 of a bag all over my shed floor. The floor is filthy - sawdust, dirt, pine needles, etc. I swept the mess up, and poured it thru the vac, needles and all. They came out out clean as can be.

    One tip I have - Move the bucket that the cleaned pellets go into out from under the vac before turning the vac off. Alot of little pieces fall out from the screen when the suction is gone and will go into your cleaned pellets if not.

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  2. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Yes, you're right....I noticed the same thing when I shut mine off....good observation & simple fix Orange. :)
  3. sydney1963

    sydney1963 New Member

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    Thanks for the info. I will show pics when it's all together. I'm guessing that a few fines are ok as long as you can get most of the sawdust out.
  4. imacman

    imacman Guest

    This unit works very well. If I had to guess, I'd say that it removes about 90-95% of the fines, if not more.
  5. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Feeling the Heat

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    I noticed a little bit of fines/dust falling out of the 3" pipe into the bucket after my test run also and determined that it does in fact get caught up just a bit in the two-screen setup I have. When I assembled mine, everything was a very tight and firm fit so I didn't glue anything except the plastic shade (funnel) to the 2" pipe. If you look at my original diagram you'll see where I put the two layers of screen material and I pushed the 3" pipe down into that fitting tightly which holds the screens firmly in place. Well I've since lifted that 3" pipe ever so slightly about 1/8" so that the screen can move just a bit. Now when I finish pouring my pellets through the pellet vac, I use the handle of a screwdriver to tap that joint (with the screens) lightly before I shut the vacuum off to loosen any fines caught in the screens and it seems to work well.

    Anxious to see more posts and pics from others who have made this simple pellet vac.

    Steve
  6. StrangeRanger

    StrangeRanger Member

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    Excellent job Short! We just had our first pellet stove installed this past Thursday (psych!) and while dumping in my very first bag of pellets I saw the fines and the wheels started turning. An idea exactly like this was rolling around in my head. You just saved me a bunch of drawing time. Thank you!
    j
  7. orangecrushcj7

    orangecrushcj7 Feeling the Heat

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    Here is a neat alternative to cleaning your pellets. I am going to try it out and see how it performs with my recommendation in reply 13. I'd like to see how it performs compared to the vac I built per this original thread. Seems like there would be alot less lifting.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/27833/
  8. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    Neat idea/exercise, but I can't ever imagining a scenario where I would go through the hassle of doing all this, especially given today's cheap gas and oil prices (never mind wood and coal). If your stove won't run with your pellets, there's either something wrong with your stove, or the pellets themselves. Finding the root cause might be a better idea as vacuuming all your pellets is bordering on obsessive/insane. If someone in your house is so allergic to these "fines" and the dust associated with pellets, why in the world are you using them in the first place???

    Sorry, just my 2 cents...
  9. smaxell1

    smaxell1 New Member

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    Hello Justin,

    Ah yeah, I looked at that video showing that first pellet vac setup.

    I tested my design just to clean pellets tonight with a couple of modifications for cleaning pellets instead of catching hot embers.
    While working with it tonight, I am convinced that mine works better for this purpose. While you COULD use my design to suck pellets directly from the bag, I would recommend dumping them into another container (when the bag closer to empty, you just end up sucking the bag). I did modify the design by replacing the paper filter with screen instead, and that solved the suction problem. There is definitely a lot less lifting and messing around with the pellets. I guess if you can pick up a bag of pellets once, you can do it twice.... instead of shoveling them into the other unit a few pounds at a time. The only problem with my design over the other is that anyone can mess with PVC to make the first one. Not everyone has access to the woodworking tools to make mine. The plywood reinforcements for the cover were cut on a bandsaw, but accuracy is not important there - so you could use a jigsaw. Cutting the holes to make a friction fit was done with a circle cutter on my drill press, and you almost certainly need a drill press to do this. Building the holes layer by layer with a hole saw in a hand drill COULD work - if you can find a hole saw that matches your outside diameter of your shop vac hose. The circle cutter that I used is adjustable to any dimension.

    Anyway... my design works for pellet screening too. If you want more details on how it was built or better photos, I will get those up for ya...

    ---scott
  10. geek

    geek Minister of Fire

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    good refresher for those that want to vac your pellets.....bumping this....
  11. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    I guess I'm lucky cuz I don't think I'd get more than an ounce or two of fines in every bag of Uncle Jed's. Honestly I've never had any problem with too many fines in a bag from any brand and, besides, my stove has never had an auger jam so I never even think about vacuuming pellets...
  12. slls

    slls Minister of Fire

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    Here is my sifter setup, only problem it can be addictive, once you start you don't want to stop.

    [​IMG]
  13. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    I have a question...I may have missed it along the way, This contraption / funnel don't look all that big. So I am assuming that you are scooping the pellets into the funnel by a few cups at a time correct? how long does it take you to filter a bag?
    What could one get as the funnel so you could dump the whole bag in at once?
  14. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    [​IMG]



    what is the purpose of these?
  15. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Just knocks the pellets around a little to help remove any dust/chips......could be left out.
  16. imacman

    imacman Guest

    I noticed the same thing on mine, and ended-up removing 1 of the screen layers. Works better. Much less "stuff" stuck to it when I tap the pipe.

    Oh, and I ended-up gluing mine together....the tapping kept loosening the pipes. I get better vacuum now too.
  17. jamesdjs

    jamesdjs Member

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    I'm with Krooser I don't need to vacuum pellets. I just throw my pellets in the hopper and I've never had a auger jam.
    I like playing with my stove but not to clean my pellets. :cheese:
  18. sydney1963

    sydney1963 New Member

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    I went through all that and I ended up just dumping right from the bag into the stove with no problems. My stove loves fines and believe me I have plenty. Loves em!!!!!!!!!
  19. imacman

    imacman Guest

    No, I just cut a corner off a bag, pick it up, and feed into the funnel as fast as it will take the pellets. Takes me about 4 minutes/bag.
    I don't think you could get a funnel big enough to hold a whole bag....you'd have to come up w/ some other way. I thought of building a plywood "hopper" with a tapered bottom that fed directly into the vacuum system, with a slide gate to control feed rate, but decided to keep it simple.
  20. investor7952

    investor7952 Feeling the Heat

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    What size are the screens and what is the material used?
  21. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Feeling the Heat

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    I purchased an aluminum screen that you put over the top of house gutters at Home Depot and just cut circles out of it.

    Steve
  22. Havlat24

    Havlat24 New Member

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    There must be some really bad pellets out there that would make people vacuum their pellets. I've been dumping whole bags of pellets into stoves for years and never had an auger jam because of fines.
  23. imacman

    imacman Guest

    I guess you didn't the pics of the fines left from the Inferno pellets I test burned.....unreal. :p
  24. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Feeling the Heat

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    It's all a matter of personal preference. Of course it is not requred that anyone vacuum or sift their pellets to remove the fines, but it's just one less thing I have to worry about. I take the time to do it and I don't mind doing it at all. If you do a search, you'll find that there have been a few members who have had an auger jamb because of excessive fines. It's no different than cleaning the windshield wipers on my truck once a month with rubbing alcohol to keep them working well and lasting longer than normal (the last pair lasted almost 3 years). I was taught that if you take care of it, it will take care of you and I am a firm believer in that 0.00001% chance that if something can go wrong, it probably will.

    Happy Heating!

    Steve
  25. imacman

    imacman Guest

    As Steve mentions, it's all a matter of preference.

    One thing that has been mentioned in the past is that some people are actually allergic to the dust created by dumping a bag straight into the hopper. The vac is great for reducing that.

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